Plasma-assisted pre-treatment of lignocellulosic biomass for anaerobic digestion
journal contributionposted on 10.09.2020, 14:18 by Alexander Wright, Andrew Rollinson, Dipti Yadav, Szymon Lisowski, Felipe IzaFelipe Iza, Richard Holdich, Tanja RaduTanja Radu, Hemaka BandulasenaHemaka Bandulasena
The conversion of industrial crops to energy has received significant attention recently as a means to reduce carbon emissions and meeting the renewable energy targets. Samples of whole crop maize (Zea mays L.) were pre-treated in tap water using a novel microbubble-enhanced dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) plasma reactor that generates highly reactive species in situ and distribute them using microbubbles. The pre-treated maize was then used as feedstock in batch and continuously-fed mesophilic continuously-stirred anaerobic digesters (AD). Half of the pre-treated samples were washed in deionized water prior to feeding to assess the effect of possible inhibitory by-products generated during pre-treatment. In batch AD experiments, DBD-plasma pre-treated and washed maize produced 18% greater biogas production in comparison to untreated raw samples, and unwashed samples produced 29% lower biogas than the untreated samples. These results suggest the production of inhibitors to the AD process, but biogas production can be enhanced by removing these inhibiting compounds. Continuously-fed AD reactors exhibited no noticeable change in biogas output between raw and plasma-treated maize. For AD reactors operating in batch, or with a relatively long residence time and fed with high lignocellulose feedstocks, plasma-microbubble pre-treatment could enhance biogas output and process efficiency.
This work was funded by grants POC-HD_RD0300C from Plants to Products network of BBSRC NIBB, BB/L013819/1, and British Council Newton Fund (award ref. 216423359).
School of ACCME, Loughborough University and EPSRC (EP/M507908/1) for PhD studentship.
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