The idea of coupling renewable energy production and agricultural waste management inspired this thesis. The production of an important future fuel -hydrogen gas- from high strength waste stream-liquid swine manure- using anaerobic treatment processes makes the most sustainable sense for both wastewater utilization and energy generation. The objectives of this thesis were to develop a fermentation process for converting liquid swine manure to hydrogen and to maximize hydrogen productivity.
Anaerobic sequencing batch reactor (ASBR) systems were constructed to carry out this fermentation process, and seed sludge obtained from a dairy manure anaerobic digester and pretreated by nutrient acclimation, heat and pH treatment was used as inoculum. High system stability was indicated by a short startup period of 12 days followed by stable hydrogen production, and successful sludge granulation occurred within 23 days of startup at a hydraulic retention time (HRT) of 24 hours. Operation at a progressively decreasing HRT from 24 to 8h gave rise to an increasing biogas production rate from 15.2-34.4L/d, while good linear relationships were observed between both total biogas and hydrogen production rates correlated to HRT, with R2 values of 0.993 and 0.997, respectively. The maximum hydrogen yield of 1.63 mol-H2/mol-hexose-feed occurred at HRT of 16h, while the HRT of 12h was highly suggested to achieve both high production rate and efficient yield. Hexose utilization efficiencies over 98%, considerable hydrogen production rate up to 14.3 L/d and hydrogen percentage of off-gas up to 43% (i.e., a CO2/H2 ratio of 1.2) with the absence of CH4 production throughout the whole course of experiment at a pH of 5.0 strongly validated the feasibility of the fermentative H2 production from liquid swine manure using an ASBR system. Ethanol as well as acetic, butyric and valeric acids were produced in the system accompanying the hydrogen production, with acetic acid being the dominant one, which contributed to 56-58% of the total soluble metabolite production, indicative of an acetic acid fermentation system, and acetate-to-butyrate ratio was found to be closely related to hydrogen yield.
pH level influenced every aspect of the ASBR performance for hydrogen production. ASBR operation at five pHs ranging from 4.4 to 5.6 (4.4, 4.7, 5.0, 5.3, 5.6) showed distinct dynamic profiles of both biogas production and the changes of H2 and CH4 percentage in the biogas during a running period of 22 days. The H2 content in biogas, H2 production rate and H2 yield were all pH-dependent, in the range of 5.1-36.9 %, 0.71-8.97 L/d and 0.12-1.50 mol-H2/mol-glucose, respectively, and maximum values for all three responses were simultaneously achieved at pH 5.0. Methanogens appeared to be significantly activated at pH of 5.3 or higher since significant CH4 evolution and concurrent reduction in H2 production was observed at pH 5.3 and 5.6. Acetate, propionate, butyrate, valerate, and ethanol were main aqueous products in all pH tests and their distribution was influenced by pH. Analysis of kinetic models developed from modified Gompertz equations for batch experiments showed that pH had a profound effect on all kinetic parameters for hydrogen production including hydrogen potential, maximum hydrogen production rate and the length of the lag phase, as well as the maximum substrate utilization rate. The low pH of 4.4 gave the highest hydrogen production potential but with the lowest hydrogen production rate. A contrast experiment was conducted with an initial pH of 5.3 but not controlled, came up with a rapid pH decline, leading to a low hexose degradation efficiency of 33.2% and a significantly suppressed H2 production, indicating the importance of pH control and the effect of pH on H2 production and substrate consumption. pH 5.0 was verified as the optimal for the proposed fermentation system by kinetic models. An extremely linear relationship (R2= 0.993) between the maximum H2 production rate and the maximum hexose degradation rate suggested that the pH inhibition on H2 production was a result of the suppression on the bacterial activity for substrate utilization due to an unfavorable pH level.
System optimization was realized through experiments conducted according to a response surface methodology, with a central composite design and empirical quadratic response equations obtained for three responses including the hydrogen content in the biogas, hydrogen evolution rate and hydrogen yield, against three independent variables, pH (4.4-5.6), HRT (8-24h) and substrate glucose concentrations (Cg, 0-20 g/L). Contour plots revealed that all three responses were significantly impacted by the variable and squared pH. Furthermore, pH and Cg had a significant interaction effect on H2 production rate, while HRT and glucose concentration were interdependent, or they had a mildly significant interaction effect on H2 production rate. The hydrogen content decreased when pH was greater than 5.0 or less than 4.6 and a largest value of 42.7% could be obtained at pH 4.8, HRT 8 h, and Cg of 18.7 g/L. The highest hydrogen production rate of 26.1 L/d happened under a pH of 4.6, HRT of 8h, and Cg of 20 g/L; Lower HRT and higher Cg was found to benefit the H2 production rate because they provide elevated organic loading and food to microorganism ratio for the system. HRT shorter than 17h resulted in declined hydrogen yield, while the glucose concentration up to 20 g/L did not cause suppression on hydrogen yield.
The revised optimal condition of pH 4.8, HRT 11h, and Cg of 20 g/L, which could achieve 85% of the maximum values of all three hydrogen productivity responses, was determined by surface response methodology. Highly reproducible results from confirming experiments at the optimal condition indicated that the results modeled in this study possessed a high reliability, while the results of H2 content, H2 production rate and yield were obtained as 40.3%, 23.16 L/d, and 1.36mol H2/mol hexose, respectively. Results obtained in this study indicated that ASBR system using swine manure based substrate had significant potential of fermentative hydrogen production.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2009. Major: Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. Advisor: Dr. Jun Zhu. 1 computer file (PDF); xvii, 157 pages. Ill. (some col.)
Fermentative hydrogen production from liquid swine manure with glucose supplement using an anaerobic sequencing batch reactor..
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