Mass Loss Controlled Thermal Pretreatment System to Assess the Effects of Pretreatment Temperature on Organic Matter Solubilization and Methane Yield from Food Waste
High temperature and pressure microwave (MW) irradiation was investigated as a pre-treatment to enhance anaerobic biodegradability and methane production from a model kitchen waste (KW). Heating rates of 7.8, 3.9 and 1.9 degrees C/min from room temperature to a final pre-treatment temperature of 175 degrees C with 1 min temperature holding time were tested. MW irradiation was successful in solubilization of particulate chemical oxygen demand (COD) resulting in higher soluble COD, protein and sugar concentrations in the supernatant phase (<0.45 microm) as well as in the whole fraction of pretreated KW compared to controls (not pretreated). Anaerobic biodegradability of the supernatant and whole fractions of pretreated KW was assessed by using a batch biochemical methane potential assay (BMP) at 33 degrees C. Although the highest level of solubilization was achieved at a heating rate of 1.9 degrees C/min, improvement in anaerobic biodegradability was observed only at the fastest heating rate of 7.8 degrees C/min for whole waste and for all conditions with the supernatant phase. BMP indicated increased biodegradability of between 5% and 16% for the supernatant fraction relative to controls. For the whole fraction, anaerobic biodegradability improved by 9% at a heating rate of 7.8 degrees C/min.