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Bioresour Technol. 2008 Sep;99(13):5881-90. Epub 2007 Nov 26.

Waste treatment and biogas quality in small-scale agricultural digesters.

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Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, The Ohio State University, 590 Woody Hayes Drive, Columbus, OH 43210-1057, United States.


Seven low-cost digesters in Costa Rica were studied to determine the potential of these systems to treat animal wastewater and produce renewable energy. The effluent water has a significantly lower oxygen demand (COD decreased from 2,968 mg/L to 472 mg/L) and higher dissolved nutrient concentration (NH(4)-N increased by 78.3% to 82.2mg/L) than the influent water, which increases the usefulness of the effluent as an organic fertilizer and decreases its organic loading on surface waters. On average, methane constituted 66% of the produced biogas, which is consistent with industrial digesters. Through principle component analysis, COD, turbidity, NH(4)-N, TKN, and pH were determined to be the most useful parameters to characterize wastewater. The results suggest that the systems have the ability to withstand fluctuations in the influent water quality. This study revealed that small-scale agricultural digesters can produce methane at concentrations useful for cooking, while improving the quality of the livestock wastewater.

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