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Comment Environment, Health, Safety & Security

Making biogas from waste with a low organic content

By Tetsuo Satoh |

The effluent discharged by domestic industries in Japan amounts to approximately 11.1 billion ton/yr. Most of this waste is comprised of relatively low concentrations of organic matter. Today, most of this effluent is treated by aerobic biotreatment (activated sludge). However, activated sludge treatment not only consumes large amounts of electric power needed to run blowers or fans, but it also produces large volumes of sludge. Now, an anaerobic fermentation process developed by Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Ltd. (SHI; Tokyo; www.shi.co.jp), in collaboration with the National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES: Tsukuba City, both Japan; www.nies.go.jp), promises to not only reduce the volume of sludge produced, but to save up to 75% of the energy needed for the treatment. Conventional biogas fermentation treatment can only be applied to effluent containing organic matter at concentrations of 2 to 20 grams CODCr/L (chemical oxygen demand, dichromate) and only at temperatures between 35 and 37°C. The new technology uses a specific bacteria that is capable of processing effluent containing organic matter at concentrations of about 0.3 to 1 g CODCr/L — typical of most effluent generated today — and also at ambient…
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