Biogas potential and microbial population distributions in flushed dairy manure and implications on anaerobic digestion technology



BACKGROUND: There remain technological deficiencies in the economical anaerobic digestion of the entire flow of flushed dairy manure on farms within cold climates. In order to develop an anaerobic digester tailored for this purpose, this study investigated the distributions of biomass and biogas generated in three particle-size-characterized zones of flushed dairy manure.

RESULTS: Results demonstrate that comparable biogas generations are equally distributed between the solids and liquid phases of flushed dairy manure, implying that at least 50% of methane generation might be lost when utilizing existing processes that only selectively handle the liquid or solids phases. Microscopic and kinetic studies show that the majority of microorganisms in the manure are attached to the surface of undigested dairy manure fibrous solids. In particular, greater than 70% of acetate-utilizing methanogens were found closely associated with the indigestible solids. This high microbial affinity to the dairy manure solids phase can be traced back to the selection pressure driven bacterial immobilization mechanism in cattle rumen.

CONCLUSION: This study shows that dairy manure fibrous solids have the potential to act as effective natural biomass carriers for high rate and simultaneous methanation of both solids and liquid phases of flushed dairy manure in one digester. Copyright © 2010 Society of Chemical Industry