Effect of feed ratio and pre-treatment on methane yields during anaerobic co-digestion of sugarcane bagasse and trash with chicken manure

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Kaparaju, Laxmi Narasimha Prasad

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Herat, Kusumsiri S

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Australia is one of the major producers and exporter of agricultural products. Annually, Australian agriculture produces approximately 151 Tg CO2 equivalent emissions. The use of fossil fuels in crop cultivation, harvesting and transportation are considered as the primary source of these greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Moreover, agronomic management and crop residues left in the field also contribute to these GHG emissions. Alternative waste management practices include the use of crop residues and agro-wastes as feedstocks for bioenergy production. Anaerobic digestion is considered as sustainable environmental technology to convert industrial sugarcane residues to carbon dioxide (CO2) - neutral biogas. The biogas thus produced can be used to produce heat, electricity and upgrade to biomethane for vehicle use. The produced biomethane can replace the diesel consumption associated with GHG emission in cane transport. Sugarcane is one among the most cultivated crop in the world. Australia alone produced nearly 33.5 million tonnes of cane in 2018 (FAO 2018). These large production of sugarcane lead to an increase in crop residues and agro-wastes from the sugarcane industry. In this study, an investigation regarding the anaerobic co-digestion of crop residues and agro-wastes from sugarcane industry viz, sugarcane trash (SCT) or sugarcane bagasse (SCB) with chicken manure (CM) was investigated in a batch experiment at 37 °C. In spite of various researches conducted till date about co-digestion of lignocellulosic waste with manure, no research data was available regarding the effect of feed ratio on co-digestion of SCT/SCB with CM. This research gap was investigated in this study. In addition to this, steam explosion pre-treatment of SCT/SCB was included to investigate how the pre-treatment influence methane yield among different feed ratios of SCT/SCB with CM. At first, SCT and SCB were subjected to steam explosion pre-treatment (steam impregnation at 130 °C for 5 minutes followed by steam explosion). Later, two sets of biochemical methane potential (BMP) tests were conducted at an Inoculum to Substrate Ratio (ISR) of 2. Co-digestion of untreated and steam exploded SCT or SCB with CM was investigated at feed ratios of 75:25, 50:50 and 25:75 on volatile solids (VS) basis. Assays with 100% untreated and steam exploded SCT or SCB were also included. Chemical analysis revealed that the steam explosion improved the VS content in pre-treated biomass compared with untreated biomass. The increase in VS was 1.6% and 5.7% in SCT and SCB, respectively. On the other hand, a slight reduction in total solids (TS) of nearly 4% and 1% were observed in the case of SCT and SCB, respectively. BMP results showed that the steam explosion had a profound effect on the methane production rates and yields, especially for SCB than SCT. Methane (CH4) yields of 201.8 and 199 ml CH4/gVSadded were obtained during the mono-digestion of untreated SCT and SCB, respectively. The corresponding values for 100% steam-exploded SCT and SCB were 207.5 and 225.6 ml/gVSadded, respectively. In comparison to mono-digestion, the co-digestion of SCB or SCT with CM did not improve the methane yields. Nevertheless, pre-treatment improved the methane production rates and yields of pre-treated biomass than untreated biomass. Among the studied feed ratios, best methane yields of 206.5 ml/gVSadded were obtained when steam-exploded SCT was co-digested with CM at 75:25 ratio. However, methane yields decreased with an increase in the amount of CM added. SCB also showed a similar trend. The best methane yield of 199.5 ml/gVSadded was obtained when steam-exploded SCB was co-digested with CM at 75:25 ratio. Among the tested feed ratios, all co-digestion mixtures except for 75:25 and 50:50 ratios of untreated SCT to CM showed synergistic effects. The best synergistic effect of 18.57% was observed when untreated SCB was co-digested with CM at 25:75 ratio. Kinetic modelling results confirmed that the steam explosion pre-treatment improved the methane production rates and yields by increasing the hydrolysis rate constant values. However, a higher hydrolysis rate constant was noticed for SCT than SCB. The highest hydrolysis rate constant of 0.16 d-1 was achieved at feed ratios of 50:50 and 25:75 of pre-treated SCT:CM. Interestingly, more than 75% of methane in pre-treated assays was produced by Day 11. The study thus suggests that the steam explosion can improve the methane production rates, yields and productivity of SCT and SCB. However, the use of CM as co-substrate did not improve the methane yields when compared to the mono-digestion of SCT or SCB, but a positive synergism was evident in most of the co-digestion feed ratios.

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Thesis (Masters)

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Master of Philosophy (MPhil)


School of Eng & Built Env

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lignocellulosic biomass


anaerobic digestion

chicken manure

steam explosion pre-treatment

feed ratio

synergistic effect

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