Selecting fermentation products for food waste valorisation with HRT and OLR as the key operational parameters.

Vicky De Groof, Marta Coma, Tom Arnot, David Leak, Ana Lanham

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27 Citations (SciVal)
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Acidogenic fermentation is attractive for food waste valorisation. A better understanding is required on how operation affects product selectivity. This study demonstrated that the hydraulic retention time (HRT) and organic loading rate (OLR) selected fermentation pathways in a single-stage, semicontinuous stirred tank reactor. Three combinations of HRT and OLR were tested to distinguish the effect of each parameter. Three fermentation profiles with distinct microbial communities were obtained. Predominantly n-butyric acid (13 ± 2 gCOD L-1, 55 ± 14% of carboxylates) was produced at an HRT of 8.5 days and OLR around 12 gCOD L-1 d-1. Operating at an HRT two days longer, yet with similar OLR, stimulated chain elongation (up to 13.6 gCOD L-1 of n-caproic acid). This was reflected by a microbial community twice as diverse at longer HRT as indicated by first and second order Hill number (1D = 24 ± 4, 2D = 12 ± 3) and by a higher relative abundance of genera related to secondary fermentation, such as the VFA-elongating Caproiciproducens spp., and secondary lactic acid fermenter Secundilactobacillus spp.. Operating at a higher OLR (20 gCOD L-1 d-1) but HRT of 8.5 days, resulted in typical lactic acid fermentation (34 ± 5 gCOD L-1) harbouring a less diverse community (1D = 8.0 ± 0.7, 2D = 5.7 ± 0.9) rich in acid-resistant homofermentative Lactobacillus spp. These findings demonstrate that a flexible product portfolio can be achieved by small adjustments in two key operating conditions. This improves the economic potential of acidogenic fermentation for food waste valorisation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-89
Number of pages10
JournalWaste Management
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2021


  • Acidogenic fermentation
  • Butyric acid
  • Caproic acid
  • Food waste valorisation
  • Lactic acid
  • Resource recovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Biotechnology


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