Vinasse is a residue from ethanol production and is largely generated by sugar cane processing in Brazil. Due to the intense growth of this sector, treatment and disposal of this waste is important for the environmental balance. One of the alternatives for the effluent disposal is drip irrigation where the vinasse is applied as fertilizer through irrigation. However, there is also the possibility to recover energy from biogas generation (methane and hydrogen) by vinasse biodigestion. Besides energy generation, biological treatment can provide an effluent with acceptable BOD - Biochemical Oxygen Demand - values to discharge in the environment. Hydrogen produced from dark fermentation process can be used as energy carrier and appears as an alternative to fossil fuels which produce CO2 as combustion product. Anaerobic fixed bed reactors have been used to study hydrogen production from wastewater in the Laboratory of Biological Processes (EESC-USP) since 2003. Several support materials for microbial attachment can be used in such reactors with direct influence on the microbial community present in the reactor. Thus, the correct choice of support material is crucial to optimize the generation of bioenergy in fixed bed reactors. In this context, this project aims to study the dynamic of biofilm formation onto different support materials in fixed bed reactors fed with vinasse. The study will support the identification of support material that provides a better microbial attachment besides to determine the kinetics of degradation of vinasse under anaerobic conditions.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: