A state of the art literature review on anaerobic digestion of food waste: influential operating parameters on methane yield

Dimitrios Komilis, Raquel Barrena, Rafaela Lora Grando, Vasilia Vogiatzi, Antoni Sánchez, Xavier Font

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. A thorough literature review was conducted to investigate the behaviour of food waste in anaerobic digestion experiments. The main goal of this literature review was to study the effect of several operating parameters on methane yields and to develop a simplified regression equation to predict methane generation. Using a data prospection methodology, all the papers published within 2013–2015 that contained selected keywords were included in this study (a total of 613 papers). After screening, 167 papers were finally retrieved using the search engines and our methodology. From these papers, data from 231 experiments were recorded and evaluated. The parameters recorded in each paper were: operation mode (batch or continuous), temperature (mesophilic or thermophilic), moisture content (wet or dry), presence or absence of pretreatment, reactor scale (laboratory, bench, pilot, demonstration/full scale), presence or absence of co-substrates (co- or mono-digestion), organic loading rate, hydraulic retention time (HRT) and methane yield. The novelty of the work is that it employed various statistical tools to examine the effect of the above-mentioned factors on food waste methane generation. Most of the experiments were performed at mesophilic temperatures, at a wet system without substrate pretreatment. An equal number of papers described mono-digestion and co-digestion studies, and an equal number of papers described batch and continuous reactor experiments. The mean HRT for the continuous processes was 36.7 days. Statistical analysis indicated that the parameters that significantly affected methane yields were the “operation mode” and “pretreatment”. A best reduced regression model was fitted to the methane yield data to describe the above effects. As a general conclusion, with this methodology, that involved the analysis of a large number of studies (with different conditions and set-ups, heterogeneous waste, etc.), correlations between some typical operating parameters of anaerobic digestion and methane yields were not obvious.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-360
JournalReviews in Environmental Science and Biotechnology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Biogas
  • Food waste
  • Regression modelling
  • Statistical analysis


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