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Bethany Campbell


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B. S. Campbell, R. B. Thorpe, D. Peus, J. Lee (2022)Anaerobic digestion of untreated and treated process water from the hydrothermal carbonisation of spent coffee grounds, In: Chemosphere293133529 Elsevier

This study investigates the long-term performance of the mesophilic (35 °C) anaerobic mono-digestion of process waters (PW) from the hydrothermal carbonisation (HTC) of spent coffee grounds. At an organic loading rate (OLR) of 0.4 gCOD L−1 d−1, initial instability was seen, but after 40 days and supplementary alkalinity, the digestion stabilised with the chemical oxygen demand (COD) in the untreated PW degraded with 37.8–64.6% efficiency and the yield of methane at 0.16 L gCOD−1. An increase in OLR to 0.8 gCOD L−1 d−1 caused a collapse in biogas production, and resulted in severe instability in the reactor, characterised by falling pH and an increasing volatile fatty acid concentration. Comparatively, the digestion of a treated PW (concentrated in nanofiltration and reverse osmosis after removal of the fouling fraction), at OLR between 0.4 and 0.8 gCOD L−1 d−1, was stable over the entire 117 days of treated PW addition, yielded methane at 0.21 L gCOD−1 and the COD was degraded with an average efficiency of 93.5% - the highest efficiency the authors have seen for HTC PW. Further anaerobic digestion of untreated PW at an average OLR of 0.95 gCOD L−1 d−1 was stable for 38 days, with an average COD degradation of 69.6%, and methane production between 0.15 and 0.19 L gCOD−1. The digestion of treated PW produced significantly higher COD degradation and methane yield than untreated PW, which is likely to be related to the removal of refractory and inhibitory organic material in the post-HTC treatment by adsorption of hydrophobic material.