Anaerobic Digestion of Dairy Cow Manure with Rumen Fluid
Sexton, Steven M.
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Biogas stands to become an important source of “green” fuel in the coming decades. The production of biogas is unique in that it uses primarily waste in order to produce fuel, allowing for waste reduction as well as subsidization of fuel demand simultaneously. Biogas is produced by the process of anaerobic digestion, where a community of anaerobic organisms work together to produce methane as a final by-product. Previous researchers have shown that livestock manures can be used to produce biogas in the laboratory and pilot plant settings. In this work, cow manure is used as the primary feedstock for an anaerobic digester inoculated with anaerobes gathered from the rumen of a cow. In theory, this should allow for a quick start-up period (10 days) as opposed to the relatively long time it requires for methanogens to grow and form a community (25 days). The results produced in this experiment showed that this method can produce methane in biogas in concentrations up to 28%. This experiment also yielded important insights into the troubleshooting required to properly maintain an anaerobic digester without killing the community of anaerobes contained within.