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Bioresour Technol. 2011 Feb;102(3):2255-64. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2010.10.035. Epub 2010 Oct 14.

Biochemical methane potential and biodegradability of complex organic substrates.

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Biological and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


The biomethane potential and biodegradability of an array of substrates with highly heterogeneous characteristics, including mono- and co-digestion samples with dairy manure, was determined using the biochemical methane potential (BMP) assay. In addition, the ability of two theoretical methods to estimate the biomethane potential of substrates and the influence of biodegradability was evaluated. The results of about 175 individual BMP assays indicate that substrates rich in lipids and easily-degradable carbohydrates yield the highest methane potential, while more recalcitrant substrates with a high lignocellulosic fraction have the lowest. Co-digestion of dairy manure with easily-degradable substrates increases the specific methane yields when compared to manure-only digestion. Additionally, biomethane potential of some co-digestion mixtures suggested synergistic activity. Evaluated theoretical methods consistently over-estimated experimentally-obtained methane yields when substrate biodegradability was not accounted. Upon correcting the results of theoretical methods with observed biodegradability data, an agreement greater than 90% was achieved.

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