Anaerobic Digestion of Food Waste: New Research, Challenges and Opportunities

A special issue of Fermentation (ISSN 2311-5637). This special issue belongs to the section "Industrial Fermentation".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2023) | Viewed by 18114

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, University of Naples Federico II, Via Claudio 21, 80125 Naples, Italy
Interests: adsorption; biofuel production; biological wastewater treatment; bioprocess engineering; fermentation biotechnology; kinetics; water engineering; wastewater treatment

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Guest Editor
Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, University of Naples Federico, I80125 Naples, Italy
Interests: fermentation; bioprocess engineering; hydrogen; biofuel production; microalgae; PHA
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Every year, about one-third of the world’s food is wasted through the food supply chain, generating many economic, environmental and social issues. Meanwhile, the increasing global energy demand and depletion of fossil fuels are driving international policies to promote the use of alternative energy sources. In this regard, the recovery of energy from food waste not only constitutes an economic opportunity, but could also contribute to the mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improvements in food waste management.

Due to its limited environmental impacts and high potential for energy recovery, Anaerobic Digestion (AD) is one the most suitable technologies for stabilizing organic wastes. As the biogas industry moves towards energy production, food waste is becoming a promising substrate for AD. On the other hand, although AD is consolidated and widely applied in the treatment of wastewater, the adoption of AD for food waste management still faces a number of technical and economic challenges. Recent research on different strategies to enhance AD of food waste—including co-digestion, addition of micronutrients, control of foaming, improved process design and integration of AD in combined biorefinery processes—have been proposed. However, further efforts are required to effectively improve the AD process from food waste.

The goal of this Special Issue is to publish both recent innovative research results and review papers on strategies to enhance AD of food waste, increasing understanding of the fundamental biological process and techno–economic analyses. Submissions concerning the most recent applications of anaerobic processes (e.g., dark and photo fermentation) are also of interest.

Sincerely,

Prof. Dr. Massimiliano Fabbricino
Dr. Grazia Policastro
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • anaerobic digestion
  • bioenergy
  • biogas
  • food waste
  • integrated biorefinery
  • methane
  • value-added co-products

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Editorial

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3 pages, 193 KiB  
Editorial
Anaerobic Digestion of Food Waste: New Research, Challenges and Opportunities
by Grazia Policastro and Massimiliano Fabbricino
Fermentation 2023, 9(5), 473; https://doi.org/10.3390/fermentation9050473 - 15 May 2023
Viewed by 1217
Abstract
Every year, about one-third of food is wasted through the food supply chain, generating many economic, environmental and social issues [...] Full article

Research

Jump to: Editorial

15 pages, 1329 KiB  
Article
Bioaugmentation Strategies for Enhancing Methane Production from Shrimp Processing Waste through Anaerobic Digestion
by Valentina Mazzurco Miritana, Alessia Gaetani, Antonella Signorini, Antonella Marone and Giulia Massini
Fermentation 2023, 9(4), 401; https://doi.org/10.3390/fermentation9040401 - 20 Apr 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1766
Abstract
Bioaugmentation strategies were tested to improve energetic valorization of shrimp processing waste (SPW) by anaerobic digestion (AD). A fermenting bacteria pool (F210) obtained from coastal lake sediments and two strains of anaerobic fungi (AF), Orpynomyces sp. and Neocallimastix sp., commonly found as components [...] Read more.
Bioaugmentation strategies were tested to improve energetic valorization of shrimp processing waste (SPW) by anaerobic digestion (AD). A fermenting bacteria pool (F210) obtained from coastal lake sediments and two strains of anaerobic fungi (AF), Orpynomyces sp. and Neocallimastix sp., commonly found as components of microbial community of AD plants, were used with the aim of improving the fermentative and hydrolytic phases of AD, respectively. The experiment was carried out by testing single bioaugmentation at an SPW concentration of 6.5 gVS L−1 and combined bioaugmentation at three SPW concentrations (6.5, 9.7 and 13.0 gVS L−1, respectively), in batch mode and mesophilic conditions. Cumulative CH4 productions were higher in the combined bioaugmentation tests and increased in line with SPW concentration. The F210 played a key role in enhancing CH4 production while no effect was attributable to the addition of AFs. The CH4 content (%) in the biogas increased with substrate concentrations, with average values of 67, 70, and 73%, respectively. Microbial community abundance increased in line with the SPW concentration and the acetoclastic Methanosarcina predominated within the methanogen Archaea guild in the combined bioaugmentation test (in all cases > 65%). Full article
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15 pages, 2309 KiB  
Article
Two-Stage Process for Energy Valorization of Cheese Whey through Bio-Electrochemical Hydrogen Production Coupled with Microbial Fuel Cell
by Tatiana Zonfa, Theofilos Kamperidis, Marica Falzarano, Gerasimos Lyberatos, Alessandra Polettini, Raffaella Pomi, Andreina Rossi and Asimina Tremouli
Fermentation 2023, 9(3), 306; https://doi.org/10.3390/fermentation9030306 - 21 Mar 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1531
Abstract
The present work investigates a two-stage process scheme for cheese whey valorization through energy recovery in different forms by means of bio-electrochemical systems. The first stage consisted of an integrated bio-electrochemical process for H2 and electricity production. This combined dark fermentation with [...] Read more.
The present work investigates a two-stage process scheme for cheese whey valorization through energy recovery in different forms by means of bio-electrochemical systems. The first stage consisted of an integrated bio-electrochemical process for H2 and electricity production. This combined dark fermentation with an electrochemical system with the aim of overcoming the typical thermodynamic/biochemical limitations of fermentation and enhancing H2 recovery. The second treatment stage involved a single-chamber microbial fuel cell, featuring an innovative configuration consisting of four air cathodes with fly ash as the oxygen reduction catalyst. The bio-electrochemical process performed in the first stage achieved promising results, displaying a three-times higher H2 production yield compared to conventional dark fermentation. In addition, the experiments using the MFC in the second stage were found to successfully exploit the effluent from the first stage, with COD removal yields of 86% ± 8% and energy recovery with a maximum current output of 1.6 mA and a maximum power density of 1.2 W/m3. Full article
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10 pages, 1873 KiB  
Article
Enhancing Dark Fermentative Hydrogen Production from Problematic Substrates via the Co-Fermentation Strategy
by Grazia Policastro, Rosetta Lamboglia, Massimiliano Fabbricino and Francesco Pirozzi
Fermentation 2022, 8(12), 706; https://doi.org/10.3390/fermentation8120706 - 04 Dec 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1912
Abstract
The aim of the present paper is the improvement of dark fermentative hydrogen production from problematic substrates. In detail, the study is aimed at (i) investigating the inhibiting effect of two problematic biomasses (i.e., of olive mill wastewater, containing recalcitrant/toxic compounds and cheese [...] Read more.
The aim of the present paper is the improvement of dark fermentative hydrogen production from problematic substrates. In detail, the study is aimed at (i) investigating the inhibiting effect of two problematic biomasses (i.e., of olive mill wastewater, containing recalcitrant/toxic compounds and cheese whey, lacking pH buffering capacity) on the dark fermentation process, (ii) as well as verifying the possibility to apply a co-fermentation strategy to enhance the process. To investigate the inhibiting effect of the substrates, two experimental sets were conducted using olive mill wastewater and cheese whey alone, under different food-to-microorganism ratios (i.e., 1, 2.5, and 5). Further experiments were conducted to verify the possibility of improving hydrogen production via the co-fermentation strategy. Such experiments included two tests conducted using different volumetric percentages of olive mill wastewater and cheese whey (90% olive mill wastewater + 10% cheese whey and 80% olive mill wastewater + 20% cheese whey). Results show that using olive mill wastewater alone, the inhibiting effect increased at a higher food-to-microorganism ratio. Moreover, because of the occurrence of a metabolic shift, hydrogen was not produced using 100% cheese whey. Interestingly, compared to the 100% olive mill wastewater condition, the use of 20% cheese whey allowed to double the hydrogen yield, reaching the high cumulative hydrogen production of 2.08 LL−1. Obtained results confirm that the two investigated substrates exert inhibiting effects on microorganisms. Nevertheless, co-fermentation is an effective strategy to improve the dark fermentation process of problematic biomass. Full article
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17 pages, 2810 KiB  
Article
Simultaneous Production of Biohydrogen (bioH2) and Poly-Hydroxy-Alkanoates (PHAs) by a Photoheterotrophic Consortium Bioaugmented with Syntrophomonas wolfei
by Axayacatl González, Edgar Salgado, Zaira Vanegas, Cristina Niño-Navarro, Omar Cortés, Isaac Chairez and Elvia I. García-Peña
Fermentation 2022, 8(11), 644; https://doi.org/10.3390/fermentation8110644 - 15 Nov 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1842
Abstract
Mixed cultures represent better alternatives to ferment organic waste and dark fermentation products in anerobic conditions because the microbial associations contribute to electron transfer mechanisms and combine metabolic possibilities. The understanding of the microbial interactions in natural and synthetic consortia and the strategies [...] Read more.
Mixed cultures represent better alternatives to ferment organic waste and dark fermentation products in anerobic conditions because the microbial associations contribute to electron transfer mechanisms and combine metabolic possibilities. The understanding of the microbial interactions in natural and synthetic consortia and the strategies to improve the performance of the processes by bioaugmentation provide insight into the physiology and ecology of the mixed cultures used for biotechnological purposes. Here, synthetic microbial communities were built from three hydrogen (bioH2) and poly-hydroxy-alkanoates (PHA) producers, Clostridium pasteurianum, Rhodopseudomonas palustris and Syntrophomonas wolfei, and a photoheterotrophic mixed consortium C4, and their performance was evaluated during photofermentation. Higher hydrogen volumetric production rates (H2VPR) were determined with the consortia (28–40 mL/Lh) as compared with individual strains (20–27 mL/Lh). The designed consortia reached the highest bioH2 and PHA productions of 44.3 mmol and 50.46% and produced both metabolites simultaneously using dark fermentation effluents composed of a mixture of lactic, butyric, acetic, and propionic acids. When the mixed culture C4 was bioaugmented with S. wolfei, the bioH2 and PHA production reached 32 mmol and 50%, respectively. Overall, the consumption of organic acids was above 50%, which accounted up to 55% of total chemical oxygen demand (COD) removed. Increased bioH2 was observed in the condition when S. wolfei was added as the bioaugmentation agent, reaching up to 562 mL of H2 produced per gram of COD. The enhanced production of bioH2 and PHA can be explained by the metabolic interaction between the three selected strains, which likely include thermodynamic equilibrium, the assimilation of organic acids via beta-oxidation, and the production of bioH2 using a proton driving force derived from reduced menaquinone or via electron bifurcation. Full article
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17 pages, 2891 KiB  
Article
Effect of Hydraulic Retention Time and Organic-Loading Rate on Two-Staged, Semi-Continuous Mesophilic Anaerobic Digestion of Food Waste during Start-Up
by Anmol Parajuli, Aakash Khadka, Lokesh Sapkota and Anish Ghimire
Fermentation 2022, 8(11), 620; https://doi.org/10.3390/fermentation8110620 - 09 Nov 2022
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3591
Abstract
The start-up of two-stage, semi-continuous mesophilic anaerobic digestion (TSAD) of food waste is stabilized by altering the hydraulic retention time (HRT) and organic-loading rate (OLR). The volumetric biogas yield and composition are studied at OLR (0.25–0.50 gVS/L/d) and HRT (10, 20, 40 days) [...] Read more.
The start-up of two-stage, semi-continuous mesophilic anaerobic digestion (TSAD) of food waste is stabilized by altering the hydraulic retention time (HRT) and organic-loading rate (OLR). The volumetric biogas yield and composition are studied at OLR (0.25–0.50 gVS/L/d) and HRT (10, 20, 40 days) initiating at OLR 0.25 g VS/L/d and HRT of 20 and 40 days for the respective reactors. Methane (CH4) from the first stage of the two-staged reactor decreased from 18.20% to 0.06%, fostering hydrogen production in 44 days when the HRT was reduced from 20 to 10 days and OLR increased from 0.25 gVS/L/d to 0.50 gVS/L/d. During the alarming volatile fatty acids (VFA)/alkalinity ratio of 0.76, feeding to the second-stage reactor was halted until pH was restored to 7.00. The restoration of methanogens was evident by an increase in methane from 39.15% to 67.48%. A stable TSAD system produced 22.32 ± 4.16 NmL/gVS and 161.02 ± 17.72 NmL/gVS of yield in respective reactors. Thus, TSAD paves the path for multiple biofuels, i.e., H2 and CH4. Full article
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10 pages, 457 KiB  
Article
Food Waste Treatments and the Impact of Composting on Carbon Footprint in Canada
by Pradeep Thapa, MD Tanvir Hasnine, Ali Zoungrana, Sandeep Thakur and Qiuyan Yuan
Fermentation 2022, 8(10), 566; https://doi.org/10.3390/fermentation8100566 - 21 Oct 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3192
Abstract
Forty percent of the food generated in Canada is wasted, making it the most significant component of municipal solid waste. Food waste characteristics, such as high moisture and oil content, and variable composition, make it difficult to manage with conventional waste treatment methods. [...] Read more.
Forty percent of the food generated in Canada is wasted, making it the most significant component of municipal solid waste. Food waste characteristics, such as high moisture and oil content, and variable composition, make it difficult to manage with conventional waste treatment methods. Part of food waste is disposed of in landfills, generating greenhouse gases and significantly increasing the carbon footprint. Various treatment methods such as composting and anaerobic digestion have been employed to treat and manage the remaining waste efficiently. This study provides an overview of the impact of composting as a food waste treatment method in Canada and paves way for the research of the usefulness of composting in addition to other food waste treatment methods such as anaerobic digestion. Average composting data for Canada was used to determine the change in the carbon footprint by the diversion of food waste using CCaLC2 software. It was determined that the overall carbon footprint of 1.38 and 1.33 mega-tons of CO2 was reduced from the composting of food waste in the years 2014 and 2016, which were approximately 18% and 20% of the total footprint of Canada municipal solid waste, respectively. The carbon footprint data collected herein were compared to the data from England, Sweden, and the USA to reveal the high effectiveness of composting in Canada. Full article
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15 pages, 1698 KiB  
Article
Impact of Cationic Polyelectrolyte Addition on Mesophilic Anaerobic Digestion and Hydrocarbon Content of Sewage Sludge
by Simeone De Simone, Francesco Di Capua, Ludovico Pontoni, Andrea Giordano and Giovanni Esposito
Fermentation 2022, 8(10), 548; https://doi.org/10.3390/fermentation8100548 - 16 Oct 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1519
Abstract
The agricultural spreading of treated sewage sludge is a valid strategy in terms of circular economy for the management of this nutrient-rich waste. Anaerobic digestion (AD) can be applied to stabilize and hygienize sewage sludge, making it suitable for agricultural reuse, while producing [...] Read more.
The agricultural spreading of treated sewage sludge is a valid strategy in terms of circular economy for the management of this nutrient-rich waste. Anaerobic digestion (AD) can be applied to stabilize and hygienize sewage sludge, making it suitable for agricultural reuse, while producing biogas to be utilized as an energy vector. However, the presence of contaminants, including petroleum hydrocarbons, could limit the widespread agricultural utilization of sewage sludge. In this context, the impact of dewatering agents, such as cationic polyelectrolytes, on AD efficiency and hydrocarbon biodegradation has been poorly investigated, although it represents a noteworthy aspect when conditioned sludge is digested for agricultural use in centralized biogas plants. This work aims to elucidate the effect of cationic polyelectrolyte addition on biomethanation as well as the degradation and extractability of C10-C40 hydrocarbons during mesophilic AD of sewage sludge. The addition of 26.7 g/kgTS of cationic polyelectrolyte was observed to extend the AD lag phase, although similar methane yields (573–607 mLCH4 per g of degraded volatile solids) were observed for both conditioned and raw sludge. Furthermore, a significant impact on hydrocarbon degradation was observed due to chemical conditioning. Indeed, this work reveals that cationic polyelectrolytes can affect hydrocarbon extractability and suggests moreover that the presence of natural interferents (e.g., biogenic waxes) in sewage sludge may lead to an overestimation of potentially toxic C10-C40 hydrocarbon concentrations, potentially limiting the application of sludge-derived digestates in agriculture. Full article
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