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[en] Spent coffee grounds (SCGs) are potentially optimal substrates for methane production but the content of organic compounds refractory to anaerobic digestion reduces the yield of the process. Alkaline pre-treatment was applied to enhance the methane recovery from SCGs through anaerobic digestion. NaOH was applied with different loadings, namely 2, 4, 6, 8% w/w for 24 h, to assess the efficiency of the process and the optimal amount of the basifying solution applied. The highest concentration of NaOH (8% w/w) lead to the best anaerobic digestion performances (392 mLCH4/gVS) as a consequence of the slightly higher lignin degradation which was 24% higher than that of the untreated substrate, and of the higher dissolved organic carbon concentration.
[en] Landfilling is a fundamental step in any waste management strategy, but it can constitute a hazard for the environment for a long time. The need to protect the environment from potential landfill emissions makes risk assessment a decision tool of extreme necessity. The heterogeneity of wastes and the complexity of physical, chemical and biological processes that occur in the body of a landfill need specific procedures in order to evaluate the groundwater risk for the environment. Given the complexity of the composition of landfill leachates, the exact contribution of each potential toxic substance cannot be known precisely. Some reference contaminants that constitute the hazard (toxicity) of leachate have to be found to perform the risk assessment. A preliminary ecotoxicological investigation with luminescent bacteria has been carried out on different leachates from traditional and sustainable landfills in order to rank the chemicals that better characterize the leachate (heavy metals, ammonia and dissolved organic content). The attention has been focused on ammonia because it is present in high concentration and can last for centuries and can seriously contaminate the groundwater. The results showed that the toxicity of the leachate might reliably depend on the ammonia concentration and that the leachate toxicity is considerably lower in sustainable landfills where the ammonia had been degraded. This has an important consequence because if the containment system fails (as usually occur within 30-50 yr), the risk of groundwater contamination will be calculated easier only in terms of the probability that the ammonia concentration is higher than a reference concentration
[en] Highlights: • Waste frying oil was successfully used as an inhibitor for H2 consumption during dark fermentation of mixed cultures. • Methane production in pre-treated cultures decreased significantly. • Duration of pre-treatment and concentration of waste frying oil affected H2 production. • Volatile fatty acids accumulation increased with waste frying oil concentration. - Abstract: An innovative method was introduced to inhibit methanogenic H2 consumption during dark fermentative hydrogen production by anaerobic mixed cultures. Waste frying oil was used as an inhibitor for hydrogenotrophic methanogens. Simultaneous effect of waste frying oil concentrations (0–20 g/L) and initial pH (5.5, 6.5 and 7.5) on inhibition of methanogenic H2 consumption and enhancement of H2 accumulation were investigated using glucose as substrate. Enhanced hydrogen yields with decreased methane productions were observed with increasing the waste frying oil concentrations. On average, CH4 productions from glucose in the cultures received 10 g/L WFO were reduced by 88%. Increased WFO concentration up to 20 g/L led to negligible CH4 productions and in turn enhanced H2 yields. Hydrogen yields of 209.26, 195.35 and 185.60 mL/g glucoseadded were obtained for the cultures pre-treated with 20 g/L waste frying oil with initial pH of 5.5, 6.5 and 7.5 respectively. H2 production by pre-treated cultures was also studied using a synthetic food waste. Anaerobic mixed cultures were pre-treated with 10 g/L WFO and varying durations (0, 24 and 48 h). A H2 yield of 71.46 mL/g VS was obtained for cultures pre-treated with 10 g/L WFO for 48 h that was 475% higher than untreated control. This study suggests a novel and inexpensive approach for suppressing hydrogenotrophic methanogens during dark fermentative H2 production.
[en] The cultivation of energy crops on landfills represents an important challenge for the near future, as the possibility to use devalued sites for energy production is very attractive. In this study, four scenarios have been assessed and compared with respect to a reference case defined for northern Italy. The scenarios were defined taking into consideration current energy crops issues. In particular, the first three scenarios were based on energy maximisation, phytotreatment ability, and environmental impact, respectively. The fourth scenario was a combination of these characteristics emphasised by the previous scenarios. A multi-criteria analysis, based on economic, energetic, and environmental aspects, was performed. From the analysis, the best scenario resulted to be the fourth, with its ability to pursue several objectives simultaneously and obtain the best score relatively to both environmental and energetic criteria. On the contrary, the economic criterion emerges as weak, as all the considered scenarios showed some limits from this point of view. Important indications for future designs can be derived. The decrease of leachate production due to the presence of energy crops on the top cover, which enhances evapotranspiration, represents a favourable but critical aspect in the definition of the results.
[en] Highlights: • Nitrified leachate was treated in digestate-added landfill columns. • 94.7% of nitrate removal efficiency was achieved after 75 days of operation. • Nitrate removal can be attributed to biological denitrification and adsorption. - Abstract: Anaerobic digestion of organics is one of the most used solution to gain renewable energy from waste and the final product, the digestate, still rich in putrescible components and nutrients, is mainly considered for reutilization (in land use) as a bio-fertilizer or a compost after its treatment. Alternative approaches are recommended in situations where conventional digestate management practices are not suitable. Aim of this study was to develop an alternative option to use digestate to enhance nitrified leachate treatment through a digestate layer in a landfill bioreactor. Two identical landfill columns (Ra and Rb) filled with the same solid digestate were set and nitrified leachate was used as influent. Ra ceased after 75 day’s operation to get solid samples and calculate the C/N mass balance while Rb was operated for 132 days. Every two or three days, effluent from the columns were discarded and the columns were refilled with nitrified leachate (average N-NO3−concentration = 1,438 mg-N/L). N-NO3− removal efficiency of 94.7% and N-NO3− removal capacity of 19.2 mg N-NO3−/gTS-digestate were achieved after 75 days operation in Ra. Prolonging the operation to 132 days in Rb, N-NO3− removal efficiency and N-NO3− removal capacity were 72.5% and 33.1 mg N-NO3−/gTS-digestate, respectively. The experimental analysis of the process suggested that 85.4% of nitrate removal could be attributed to denitrification while the contribution percentage of adsorption was 14.6%. These results suggest that those solid digestates not for agricultural or land use, could be used in landfill bioreactors to remove the nitrogen from old landfill leachate.
[en] Highlights: • Sustainable Hybrid bioreactor landfill lab-scale application. • Semi-aerobic, Anaerobic, Aerated (S.An.A.®) concept. • Enhancement of methane production and biochemical processes. • Aeration and flushing for reaching Final Storage Quality. - Abstract: Hybrid Bioreactor Landfills are designed to enhance and speed up biological processes, aiming at reducing the duration of post operational phase until landfill completion. S.An.A.®(Semi-aerobic, Anaerobic, Aerated) concept consists in a Hybrid Bioreactor featuring a first semi-aerobic phase to enhance the methane production occurring in the following anaerobic step and a forced aeration for the abatement of the residual emissions. At the end of the last step, semi-aerobic conditions are restored and flushing applied for leaching residual non-biodegradable compounds. Results of the application of S.An.A.® concept to a lab scale bioreactor system showed that pre-aeration was effective in controlling the concentration of VFA, increasing pH and stimulating methane production during anaerobic phase; in particular with intermittent airflow the methane potential was 50% higher respect to control reactors. Forced aeration reduced organic compounds and nitrogen concentration in leachate of an order of magnitude, better performing in low airflow reactors. S.An.A.® Hybrid bioreactors proved to be an efficient system both for increasing methane production and reaching landfill completion in shorter time, suggesting that with proper landfill management, the duration of post-closure care might be reduced by 25–35%.