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International Journal of Hydrogen Energy
2019


Evaluation of sludge liquors from acidogenic fermentation and thermal hydrolysis process as feedstock for microbial electrolysis cells

Long Lina, Basem S.Zakariaa, Ehssan Hosseini Koupaieb, Amir Abbas Bazyar Lakehb, Hisham Hafezc, Elsayed Elbeshbishyb, Bipro Ranjan Dhara

Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Alberta, 116 Street NW, Edmonton, AB T6G 1H9, Canada.

Abstract

In this study, mesophilic acidogenic fermentation, thermophilic acidogenic fermentation, and thermal hydrolysis process (THP) were compared to generate sludge liquors for bioenergy recovery with microbial electrolysis cells (MECs). The results showed that THP at 170 °C was the most effective for hydrolysis of particulate organics in sewage sludge, while fermentation under thermophilic temperature led to the highest accumulation of volatile fatty acids (VFAs) in sludge liquor. However, THP yielded the highest percentage of acetate in VFAs, which resulted in superior MEC performance compared to fermented sludge liquors in terms of current density (2.7 vs. ~1.3 A/m2), coulombic efficiency (50% vs. 31–34%), bio-H2 potential (1114 vs. 839–881 mL), and H2 production rate (50.3 mL/d vs. 28–32 mL/d). The utilization sequence of the VFAs was found to be acetate > butyrate > propionate. Overall, our results show that generating sludge liquors through THP could provide a feasible solution to produce bio-H2 from sewage sludge; however, coulombic efficiencies should be further improved before practical application.

Keywords: Acidogenic fermentation, Bio-hydrogen, Microbial electrolysis cell, Sewage sludge liquor, Thermal hydrolysis process.

 
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