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Energy production from waste: Evaluation of anaerobic digestion and bioelectrochemical systems based on energy efficiency and economic factors

Jeffrey R. Beegle and Abhijeet P. Borole

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2018, vol. 96, issue C, 343-351

Abstract: Anaerobic digesters (AD) and bioelectrochemical systems (BES) are becoming increasingly popular technologies for the generation of renewable energy from wastes. Synergies between these technologies exist, however, configurations to couple them have been insufficiently investigated. This study compares the theoretical energy efficiencies of converting waste directly into electricity, using AD and BES alone and in various combinations. This study reviews the experimentally demonstrated energy efficiencies reported in the literature with comparisons to the maximum theoretical efficiencies, considering thermodynamic limits. Acetate is used as an ideal substrate for theoretical calculations, whereas complex wastes are used for extended analyses of practical efficiencies. In addition, to evaluate the economic potential of this technology, a brief case study was conducted using the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) water resource recovery facility (WRRF). Sensitivity analysis was performed on several parameters in the economic model. The results of this study indicate the combined Anaerobic Digester/Microbial Electrolysis Cell (ADMEC) process may be the best path forward due to the high energy efficiency, combined with potential economic benefits, but is not at commercial readiness. We estimate energy efficiencies of 52.9% and 45.6% for the ADMEC process, using current state-of-the-technology, for converting food waste and sewage sludge to a CH4/H2 mix, respectively. This study concludes with a discussion of new strategies to improve the energy efficiency of AD and BES processes.

Keywords: Energy efficiency; Microbial fuel cell; Microbial electrolysis cell; Anaerobic digestion; Waste-to-energy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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Handle: RePEc:eee:rensus:v:96:y:2018:i:c:p:343-351