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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2014 Jun;27:142-9. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2014.01.013. Epub 2014 Feb 16.

The role of anaerobic digestion in the emerging energy economy.

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Advanced Water Management Centre, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane, Australia. Electronic address:
Advanced Water Management Centre, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane, Australia; Centre for Microbial Electrosynthesis, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane, Australia.


Anaerobic digestion is the default process for biological conversion of residue organics to renewable energy and biofuel in the form of methane. However, its scope of application is expanding, due to availability of new technologies, and the emerging drivers of energy and nutrient conservation and recovery. Here, we outline two of these new application areas, namely wastewater nutrient and energy recovery, and generation of value added chemicals through mixed culture biotechnology. There exist two options for nutrient and energy recovery from domestic wastewater: low energy mainline and partition-release-recovery. Both are heavily dependent on anaerobic digestion as an energy generating and nutrient release step, and have been enabled by new technologies such as low emission anaerobic membrane processes. The area of mixed culture biotechnology has been previously identified as a key industrial opportunity, but is now moving closer to application due application of existing and new technologies. As well as acting as a core technology option in bioproduction, anaerobic digestion has a key role in residual waste valorization and generation of energy for downstream processing. These new application areas and technologies are emerging simultaneously with substantial advances in knowledge of underlying mechanisms such as electron transfer, understanding of which is critical to development of the new application areas.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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