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Keywords:

  • citrus waste;
  • pre-treatment;
  • methane;
  • limonene;
  • cost estimation

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Because of its extreme toxicity for microorganisms, the limonene content of citrus wastes (CWs) has been a major obstacle to the conversion of CWs to biofuels. The main objective of this study was to develop a new process for the utilization of CWs that can be economically feasible when the supply of CW is low.

RESULTS: Steam explosion pre-treatment was applied to improve the anaerobic digestibility of CWs, resulting in a decrease of initial limonene concentration by 94.3%. A methane potential of 0.537 ± 0.001 m3 kg−1 VS (volatile solids) was obtained during the following batch digestion of treated CWs, corresponding to an increase of 426% compared with that of the untreated samples. Long-term effects of the treatment were further investigated by a semi-continuous co-digestion process. A methane production of 0.555 ± 0.0159 m3 CH4 kg−1 VS day−1 was achieved when treated CWs (corresponding to 30% of the VS load) were co-digested with municipal solid waste.

CONCLUSION: The process developed can easily be applied to an existing biogas plant. The equipment cost for this process is estimated to be one million USD when utilizing 10 000 tons CWs year−1. 8.4 L limonene and 107.4 m3 methane can be produced per ton of fresh citrus wastes in this manner. Copyright © 2011 Society of Chemical Industry