Evaluating and Optimising the Microbial Ecology of Novel Anaerobic Digester Configurations.
Evaluating and Optimising Digester Configurations.
Name: Jamie FitzGerald
T: 353 (0)21 420-5277
F: 353 (0)21 490-1932
Project Title: Evaluating and Optimising the Microbial Ecology of Novel Anaerobic Digester Configurations
Funding Body: Industry Partner & Science Foundation Ireland
Period: October 2013 - 2017
Anaerobic digestion is a maturing technology: the conversion of bio-matter to methane by complex microbial communities has applications in renewable energy, energy storage, and waste remediation, as well as promoting a sustainability-centred economy. However, the methanogenic communities found in bioreactors are neither fully understood nor optimised, due to variety in design, differences in evaluation, and the underlying dsiversity of microbial communities.
A pilot reactor utilising a single high-yield feedstock (sugarbeet, Beta vulgaris) is expected to provide a controlled environment in which to study and optimize the reactor’s ecology, from the seeding stage through steady-state operation. Regular 16S DNA sequencing from the reactor will allow profiling of the microbial community as it evolves; considered with input/output trends it will allow key players and stages in a methane-generating community to be characterised for this reactor setup. Secondly, characterising the community’s development is expected to identify areas where reactor process and design can be improved, considering pre-treatments and supplements, with an aim to curtail acclimatisation periods and optimise yield.
Ultimately, improved understanding of the evolving microbiology in a controlled environment will provide a road-map for optimising this and future reactors.