Comparative Fuel Yield from Anaerobic Digestion of Emerging Waste in Food and Brewery Systems

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Food waste (FW), a major part of the US waste stream, causes greenhouse gases within landfills, but there is an opportunity to divert FW to anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities that produce biogas and digestate fertilizer. The composition of FW inputs to AD determines the value of these products. This study provides insight into the effect of waste composition on the quality of AD products by first characterizing the biogas and digestate quality of anaerobically digested FW from four diets (paleolithic, ketogenic, vegetarian, and omnivorous), and then estimating the difference in biogas produced from codigested FW and brewery waste (BW). Waste feedstock mixtures were incubated in lab-scale bioreactors for 21 days with live inoculum. Biogas quality was monitored for 21–30 days in four trials. Samples were analyzed using a gas chromatograph for detection of methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2). The composition of the waste inputs had a significant impact on the quality of biogas but not on the quality of the digestate, which has implications for the value of post-AD fertilizer products. Wastes with higher proportions of proteins and fats enhanced biogas quality, unlike wastes that were rich in soluble carbohydrates. Codigestion of omnivorous food waste with carbon-rich agricultural wastes (AW) improved biogas quality, but biogas produced from BW does not necessarily improve with increasing amounts of AW in codigestion.