Enhanced stability of food waste anaerobic digestion under low inoculum to substrate ratio by using biochar

Liwen Luo, Puiyan Chu, Jialin Liang, Johnravindar Davidraj, Jun Zhao, Jonathan W.C. Wong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


The influence of biochar on anaerobic digestion (AD) of organic waste have been widely studied. However, the effect of biochar on the mitigation of acidification and subsequently the stimulation of methanogenesis recovery during mono food waste (FW) digestion process under a low inoculum to substrate (I/S) ratio (i.e. a high organic loading) is rarely investigated. In this study, the benefit of biochar with respect to methane production from FW was explored in a mono FW AD system with four different additional amounts of biochar, i.e. 0, 5, 10 and 15 g/L. Results revealed that biochar boosted methane production in AD at a low I/S ratio by 390–530% through stimulating methanogenic activity, improving organics removal and enhancing process stability. The biochar dosage of 10 g/L demonstrated the highest biodegradability of 92.3% and the highest specific methane production of 553.0 mL/g VSremoved among all groups. Without biochar addition, volatile fatty acids (VFAs) accumulated to 20 g/L and the highest total ammonium-N (TAN) was > 1200 mg/L. The suppression of methanogenesis was significantly correlated with VFA and TAN (p < 0.05). Therefore, biochar addition presented a positive effect on VFAs degradation and buffering capacity which could be an effective approach to enhance methane production from FW digestion at a low inoculum to substrate ratio without the fear of system failure.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Technology (United Kingdom)
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Dec 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal

User-Defined Keywords

  • anaerobic digestion
  • Biochar
  • low inoculum to substrate ratio
  • system stability
  • VFA accumulation


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