ULTRASONICS SONOCHEMISTRY, vol.22, pp.565-572, 2015 (SCI-Expanded)
This study investigates applicability of low frequency ultrasound technology to olive mill wastewaters (OMWs) as a pretreatment step prior to anaerobic batch reactors to improve biogas production and methane yield. OMWs originating from three phase processes are characterized with high organic content and complex nature. The treatment of the wastewater is problematic and alternative treatment options should be investigated. In the first part of the study, OMW samples were subjected to ultrasound at a frequency of 20 kHz with applied powers varying between 50 and 100W under temperature controlled conditions for different time periods in order to determine the most effective sonication conditions. The level of organic matter solubilization at ultrasound experiments was assessed by calculating the ratio of soluble chemical oxygen demand/total chemical oxygen demand (SCOD/TCOD). The results revealed that the optimum ultrasonic condition for diluted OMW is 20 kHz, 0.4 W/mL for 10 min. The application of ultrasound to OMW increased SCOD/TCOD ratio from 0.59 to 0.79. Statistical analysis (Friedman's tests) show that ultrasound was significantly effective on diluted OMW (p < 0.05) in terms of SCOD parameter, but not for raw OMW (p > 0.05). For raw OMW, this increase has been found to be limited due to high concentration of suspended solids (SS). In the second part of the study, biogas and methane production rates of anaerobic batch reactor fed with the ultrasound pretreated OMW samples were compared with the results of control reactor fed with untreated OMW in order to determine the effect of sonication. A nonparametric statistical procedure, Mann-Whitney U test, was used to compare biogas and methane production from anaerobic batch reactors for control and ultrasound pretreated samples. Results showed that application of low frequency ultrasound to OMW significantly improved both biogas and methane production in anaerobic batch reactor fed with the wastewater (p < 0.05). Anaerobic batch reactor fed with ultrasound pretreated diluted OMW produced approximately 20% more biogas and methane compared with the untreated one (control reactor). The overall results indicated that low frequency ultrasound pretreatment increased soluble COD in OMW and subsequently biogas production. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.