Biogas Production from Citrus Wastes and Chicken Feather: Pretreatment and Co-digestion
Doktorsavhandling, 2012

Anaerobic digestion is a sustainable and economically feasible waste management technology, which lowers the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs), decreases the soil and water pollution, and reduces the dependence on fossil fuels. The present thesis investigates the anaerobic digestion of waste from food-processing industries, including citrus wastes (CWs) from juice processing and chicken feather from poultry slaughterhouses. Juice processing industries generate 15–25 million tons of citrus wastes every year. Utilization of CWs is not yet resolved, since drying or incineration processes are costly, due to the high moisture content; and biological processes are hindered by its peel oil content, primarily the D-limonene. Anaerobic digestion of untreated CWs consequently results in process failure because of the inhibiting effect of the produced and accumulated VFAs. The current thesis involves the development of a steam explosion pretreatment step. The methane yield increased by 426 % to 0.537 Nm3/kg VS by employing the steam explosion treatment at 150 °C for 20 min, which opened up the compact structure of the CWs and removed 94 % of the D-limonene. The developed process enables a production of 104 m3 methane and 8.4 L limonene from one ton of fresh CWs. Poultry slaughterhouses generate a significant amount of feather every year. Feathers are basically composed of keratin, an extremely strong and resistible structural protein. Methane yield from feather is low, around 0.18 Nm3/kg VS, which corresponds to only one third of the theoretical yield. In the present study, chemical, enzymatic and biological pretreatment methods were investigated to improve the biogas yield of feather waste. Chemical pretreatment with Ca(OH)2 under relatively mild conditions (0.1 g Ca(OH)2/g TSfeather, 100 °C, 30 min) improved the methane yield to 0.40 Nm3/kg VS, corresponding to 80 % of the theoretical yield. However, prior to digestion, the calcium needs to be removed. Enzymatic pretreatment with an alkaline endopeptidase, Savinase®, also increased the methane yield up to 0.40 Nm3/kg VS. Direct enzyme addition to the digester was tested and proved successful, making this process economically more feasible, since no additional pretreatment step is needed. For biological pretreatment, a recombinant Bacillus megaterium strain holding a high keratinase activity was developed. The new strain was able to degrade the feather keratin which resulted in an increase in the methane yield by 122 % during the following anaerobic digestion.

anaerobic digestion

citrus wastes




economic analyses

KA, Kemigården 4, Göteborg
Opponent: Prof. Jukka Rintala, Tampere University of Technology, Finland


Gergely Forgács

Chalmers, Kemi- och bioteknik

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Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology,; Vol. 87(2012)p. 250-255

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Bioresource Technology,; Vol. 101(2010)p. 4246-4250

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Biological treatment of chicken feather waste for improved biogas production

Journal of Environmental Sciences,; Vol. 23(2011)p. 1747-1753

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Hållbar utveckling


Industriell bioteknik





Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie: 3368

KA, Kemigården 4, Göteborg

Opponent: Prof. Jukka Rintala, Tampere University of Technology, Finland

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