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Use of vinasse from sugar cane to produce hydrogen and methane in a two thermophylic stage process: acidogenic reactor followed by methanogenic reactor


From the perspective of sustainability and environmental control, researches have focused on biotechnological processes for the treatment of wastes in order to remove organic matter and produce bioenergy. In this scenario the anaerobic technology is noteworthy, since promote removal of organic matter and generation of bioenergy such as hydrogen and methane. Vinasse, the waste production of sugar and ethanol from sugarcane, has a high potential for anaerobic treatment and under thermophylic condition. Recent researches have been shown that two stage anaerobic processes with physical separation of acidogenesis and methanogenesis can improve organic matter removal, hydrogen and methane production from sewage and wastewater, however little is known about the application of this process to treat vinasse and under thermophylic conditions. Gaps related to the process, eg, configuration, operation and stability of reactors and limited knowledge of the microbiota involved need to be overcome in order to evaluate the potential application of this technology for the treatment of vinasse and bioenergy production. In this study, a two stage process consisting of acidogenic upflow fixed bed reactor followed by methanogenic UASB reactor will be operated with vinasse under thermophylic conditions in order to promote the production of hydrogen and methane, respectively. Firstly, the acidogenic reactor will be operated at different temperatures (55-600C, 650C, 700C) in order to select the best temperature for hydrogen production. The two stage system, acidogenic-methanogenic, will then be operated with the best temperature studied and evaluated for organic matter removal, hydrogen and methane production. The microbiota will be studied by isolation and cultivation techniques applied to anaerobic microorganisms as well as by molecular techniques. The results will contribute to the biotechnological processes for the production of bioenergy using vinasse. The operation at different temperatures in the acidogenic reactor and the operation of a two stage system acidogenic-methanogenic will help to verify the feasibility of the application of thermophylic process to remove organic matter and generate biogas from vinasse. The knowledge of the microorganisms that produce hydrogen and methane will contribute for a better understanding of the process, necessary for the appropriate application of technology. (AU)