Sustained effect of zero-valent iron nanoparticles under semi-continuous anaerobic digestion of sewage sludge: Evolution of nanoparticles and microbial community dynamics

Raquel Barrena*, María del Carmen Vargas-García, Georgina Capell, Maja Barańska, Victor Puntes, Javier Moral-Vico, Antoni Sánchez, Xavier Font

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The effects of adding zero-valent iron nanoparticles (nZVI) on the physicochemical, biological and biochemical responses of a semi-continuous anaerobic digestion of sewage sludge have been assessed. Two sets of consecutive experiments of 103 and 116 days, respectively, were carried out in triplicate. nZVI were magnetically retained in the reactors, and the effect of punctual doses (from 0.27 to 4.33 g L−1) over time was studied. Among the different parameters monitored, only methane content in the biogas was significantly higher when nZVI was added. However, this effect was progressively lost after the addition, and in 5–7 days, the methane content returned to initial values. The increase in the oxidation state of nanoparticles seems to be related to the loss of effect over time. Higher dose (4.33 g L−1) sustained positive effects for a longer time along with higher methane content, but this fact seems to be related to microbiome acclimation. Changes in microbial community structure could also play a role in the mechanisms involved in methane enhancement. In this sense, the microbial consortium analysis reported a shift in the balance among acetogenic eubacterial communities, and a marked increase in the relative abundance of members assigned to Methanothrix genus, recognized as acetoclastic species showing high affinity for acetate, which explain the rise in methane content in the biogas. This research demonstrates that biogas methane enrichment in semicontinuous anaerobic digesters can be achieved by using nZVI nanoparticles, thus increasing energy production or reducing costs of a later biogas upgrading process.

Original languageEnglish
Article number145969
JournalScience of the total environment
Volume777
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Magnetic nanoparticles
  • Methanothrix
  • Oxidation state
  • nZVI

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