AD Workshop - Optimising Processes for the Stable Digestion of Food Waste

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1 AD Workshop - Optimising Processes for the Stable Digestion of Food Waste Ammonia removal from food waste digestate using gas stripping Dr Sonia Heaven Dr Mark Walker

2 Contents Introduction Ammonia removal scenarios Batch ammonia stripping from food waste digestate Integrating ammonia stripping with anaerobic digestion Part 1 - Ammonia release during hydrolysis Part 2 - Side-stream ammonia removal Modelling ammonia removal during anaerobic digestion Conclusions

3 Ammonia Gas removal NH 3(g) Headspace Gas bubbling Digestate Proteins NH 3(l) NH 4 + (aq)

4 Introduction Why remove ammonia? Reduced toxicity on acetoclastic methanogens Valuable product Why gas stripping? Easy to integrate with AD plants, proven chemical technology How can gas stripping be used? 4 scenarios identified: side-stream, post-hydrolysis, in situ and postdigestion Results presented in 3 sections 1. Batch ammonia stripping from digestate 2. Integration of ammonia stripping with anaerobic digestion 3. Modelling the performance of a combined ammonia and anaerobic digestion process

5 Ammonia removal scenario 1 Post-digestion biogas ammonia capture removed ammonia food waste mixing tank mesophilic digester (35 C) pasteuriser (70 C) digestate recycled digestate

6 Ammonia removal scenario 2 in situ biogas ammonia capture removed ammonia food waste mixing tank gas-mixed mesophilic digester (35 C) pasteuriser (70 C) digestate

7 Ammonia removal scenario 3 Side-stream biogas food waste mixing tank gas-mixed mesophilic digester (35 C) pasteuriser (70 C) digestate ammonia capture removed ammonia Stripping reactor

8 Ammonia removal scenario 4 Post-hydrolysis ammonia capture removed ammonia biogas biogas food waste biogas mixing tank (hydrolysis) Stripping reactor gas-mixed mesophilic digester (35 C) pasteuriser (70 C) digestate

9 Batch ammonia stripping from food waste digestate

10 Objectives To understand kinetics of ammonia removal with regard to important process characteristics Temperature (35-70 C) ph (unmodified or with NaOH to increase to ) Gas flow rate ( l l -1 min -1 ) To collect data on removal of ammonia from real food waste digestate which is applicable to all scenarios To gain some qualitative understanding of how (removed) ammonia could be captured 2 digestate samples used from AD plants feeding both commercial and domestic source-separated food waste

11 Experimental setup

12 Initial findings Confirmation of theoretical framework Nitrogen strips carbon dioxide and causes ph decrease With biogas stripping, temperature and flow rate both increase ammonia removal rate A complex system Ammonia removal causes ph to decrease VFA concentration changes ph behaviour as ammonia is removed ph changes ammonia removal behaviour No ammonia removal below ph of ~7.5 If ammonia removal ceases, water removal through evaporation can cause an increase in ammonia concentration

13 Results ammonia removal kinetics τ = 1/0.031 = 32.3 hours Ammonia conc. (mg/l) y = 7797e 0.031x R² = Curve fitted in the form C=C 0 e t/τ where τ is the decay constant Time (hrs)

14 Run # Reactor # Temperatu re ( C) Flow Rate (l l -1 min -1 ) Alkali addition Length of Run (hrs) Initial Final Time constant (hrs) r 2 % Ammonia Removed Digestate 1 ph Ammonia (mg/l) ph Ammonia (mg/l) N % N % 35/55 C gives decay constant hours N % N % N % N % N % N % N % Y % N N % 70 C gives decay constant hours Y % Y % Y % Y % Y % Y % Y % Y % Digestate N % N % N % N % N % N % Y % 70 C + ph modification gives decay constant ~4 hours Y % Y % Y % Y % Y %

15 Results effect of gas flow rate (no ph modification) l l -1 min -1 results in an increase in ammonia removal rate Further increase in gas flow rate does not deliver any process advantage

16 Results effect of gas flow rate (with ph modification) Without ph modification kinetics digestate dependent The effect of ph is to increase ammonia removal rate and less digestate specific

17 Results effect of VFA concentration Lower initial ph with VFA ph downswing seen in initial experiments VFA spiked sample had reduced ammonia removal

18 Results ammonia recovery 12.1_70_0.25_10 and 12.2_70_0.25_10 Ammonia R1 R2 concentration (mg/l) Initial Digestate Lower flow rate results in higher strength ammonia solutions due to decreased evaporation Final Digestate Acid trap Water trap Condensate trap Crystals (with water)

19 Results ammonia recovery 11.1_70_0.125_10

20 Outcomes batch ammonia removal Increasing ph, temperature and gas flow rate increase the rate of removal of ammonia...but above l l -1 min -1 further increase in flow rate realises no benefits (and causes more evaporation) Moving from AD temperatures (35/55 C) to 70 C greatly decreases time needed for ammonia removal, which with ph modification can be reduced to around 4 hours Ammonia removal from two digestates shows different behaviour except at high ph VFA can reduce the effectiveness of ammonia stripping Ammonia readily trapped using condensation or water bubbling

21 Integrating ammonia stripping with AD

22 Integrating ammonia stripping with AD Part 1 Ammonia released during semi-continuous anaerobic hydrolysis

23 Ammonia removal scenario 4 Post-hydrolysis ammonia capture removed ammonia biogas biogas food waste biogas mixing tank (hydrolysis) Stripping reactor gas-mixed mesophilic digester (35 C) pasteuriser (70 C) digestate

24 Aim post hydrolysis removal scenario batch ammonia removal process Need to understand ammonia release kinetics during hydrolysis step to design an appropriate ammonia removal system ammonia capture biogas food waste biogas mixing tank (hydrolysis) Stripping reactor

25 Experimental setup 8 x 600 ml working volume, stirred mesophilic digesters fed on homogenised food waste Retention times from 2-10 days Retention time (d) # digesters Digestate removed daily (g) Food waste added daily (g)

26 Results ph Initial ph drop caused by acid production and washout of methanogenic biomass ph inhibition of biological reactions expected Lower retention times resulted in lower steady state ph

27 Results gas production biogas was found to be CO 2 and increased with shorter retention time Specific gas production is similar suggesting an inhibition of the hydrolysis process

28 Results ammonia Initially higher ammonia production (higher ph) As ph decreases ammonia production decreases Similar ammonia concentration at all retention times which supports that biological hydrolysis/fermentation is inhibited Only ~ 15% of the total ammonia in the food waste is being released

29 Outcomes ammonia released during hydrolysis Ammonia and biogas (carbon dioxide) data show that the hydrolysis and fermentation process is being inhibited in its early stages Inhibition is likely due to ph Increasing the retention time has no effect on the degree of hydrolysis Only effective at releasing ~15% of the bioavailable ammonia Not a useful pre-treatment to ammonia removal

30 Integrating ammonia stripping with AD Part 2 AD of food waste with side-stream ammonia removal

31 Experimental setup 2gVS/ld food waste biogas daily transfer of digestate 3.6-litre digester (mesophilic) 0.36-litre stripping reactor continuous circulation of biogas water trap (100ml DI water, thermophilic only) pump acid trap (100ml 40% H 2 SO 4 ) digester system stripping system excess digestate

32 Experimental setup ammonia stripping system Thermophilic litre stripping reactors ST1 ST2 Pump Acid traps SM1 SM2 Mesophilic litre stripping reactors Water traps

33 Results methane production Transient behaviour throughout experiment Later thermophilic stripping shows process advantage (hydrolysis? population selection?) Mesophilic stripping destabilises process Initially thermophilic stripping caused instability

34 Results ammonia concentration Initial ammonia reduction causes a reduction in ph of all reactors from No further ammonia removal caused by ph decrease and VFA increase ph decreased and VFA increased through experiment

35 Outcomes side-stream ammonia removal Using side-stream ammonia stripping initial rapid reductions in ammonia were achieved (~ mg l -1 ) after which no ammonia removal was observed, probably due to the interaction of ammonia stripping with ph and VFA throughout the experiment Under the conditions investigated, ammonia removal was unable to prevent the accumulation of VFA and subsequent destabilisation of the anaerobic digestion process and cessation of ammonia removal Ammonia stripping could have potential for the intermittent removal of ammonia since it is most effective when the concentration of ammonia is high and at the corresponding high ph

36 Modelling the integration of ammonia removal and food waste AD

37 Objectives Use experimental data from batch ammonia removal work to simulate removal of ammonia from a full anaerobic digestion process Model two of the most promising ammonia removal scenarios Post digestion 70 C, l l -1 min- 1 and with ph modification In situ ammonia removal during mesophilic anaerobic digestion Both scenarios modelled under a modest and high rate loading condition (2 and 5 g VS l -1 day -1 ) and for a freshly inoculated and mature digester (initial ammonia conc 500 mg l -1 and 6000 mg l -1 ) Requires some simplifying assumptions regarding the way ammonia is released during digestion and to what concentration (see report).

38 Scenario 1 post digestion ammonia removal biogas ammonia capture removed ammonia mesophilic digester (35 C) food waste mixing tank pasteuriser (70 C) digestate recycled digestate Digestate recycle ratio can be used to set the digester retention time, which was limited to 30 days for biological stability. High recycle ratio leads to greater ammonia removal Ammonia stripped digestate is used to dilute the incoming food waste leading to a reduced in-digester ammonia concentration Ammonia removal time constant = 4 hours as per run 20.1/20.2

39 Scenario 1 modelling results 31% removal (5 g VS l -1 day -1 ) Final conditions independent of initial conditions 72% removal (2 g VS l -1 day -1 )

40 Scenario 2 in situ ammonia removal biogas ammonia capture removed ammonia food waste mixing tank gas-mixed mesophilic digester (35 C) pasteuriser (70 C) digestate No digestate recycle therefore organic loading rate determines retention time Ammonia removal time constant = 575 hours as per run 0.1

41 Scenario 2 modelling results 63% removal (5 g VS l -1 day -1 ) 81% removal (2 g VS l -1 day -1 )

42 Outcomes ammonia removal modelling In situ ammonia stripping at mesophilic conditions results in a lower in-digester ammonia concentration despite the much lower rate of ammonia removal Post digestion ammonia removal not effective at removing ammonia from the digester in a high rate system since there is a limitation on the ammonia of digestate that can be recycled An energetic analysis is needed: Post digestion is heat hungry - excess digestate is pasteurised In situ is pumping hungry - 30 x the gas pumping cost

43 Conclusions - Ammonia removal from food waste digestate using gas stripping

44 Main conclusions Ammonia removal by gas stripping took place with decay constants of hours in the envelope of conditions investigated in this project Low ph (<7.5) and high VFA can both severely limit the ammonia stripping performance Preliminary laboratory investigation into the integration of ammonia stripping as a post-hydrolysis or side-stream process showed insufficient ammonia removal for stable anaerobic digestion Modelling the ammonia removal process during anaerobic digestion showed in situ ammonia stripping to be a promising treatment option in decreasing in-digester ammonia concentrations, especially at a high organic loading rate

45 Thank you for your attention!

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