Two-stage anaerobic digestion of energy crops: Methane production, nitrogen mineralisation and heavy metal mobilisation

Anni Lehtomäki, Lovisa Björnsson

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88 Citations (SciVal)


Energy crops (willow, sugar beet and grass silage) were digested ill pilot scale two-stage anaerobic digesters. The specific methane yields obtained were 0.16, 0.38 and 0.39 m(3) kg(-1) added volatile solids (VSadded) for willow, sugar beet and grass, respectively, corresponding to yearly gross energy yields of 15, 53 and 26 megawatt-hours (MWh) per hectare. With grass and sugar beets as substrate, 84-85% of the harvestable methane was obtained within 30 days. In pilot scale two-stage digestion of willow and sugar beet, 56 and 85,, of the laboratory scale methane yields were obtained, but digestion of grass in two-stage reactors yielded 5% more methane than digestion in laboratory scale completely mixed low solids systems, possibly due to the pH conditions favourable to hydrolysis in the two-stage system. In digestion of grass and sugar beet the liquid at the end of digestion was rich in ammonium nitrogen, and the nitrogen in the substrate was efficiently mineralised. The results show that heavy metal concentrations are not likely to limit the utilisation of residues from digestion of nonmetal accumulating crops. Efficient mobilisation of heavy metals during the acidic phase of digestion revealed the possibility of removing metals from leachate generated in two-stage anaerobic digestion of phytoextracting crops.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-218
JournalEnvironmental Technology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Industrial Biotechnology


  • nutrients
  • energy crops
  • two-stage process
  • biogas
  • methane


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