An alternative method was proposed to optimize the treatment process of palm oil mill effluent (POME) in an effort to address the poor removal efficiencies in terms of the chemical and biological oxygen demand (COD and BOD), total suspended solids (TSS) as well as oil and grease (O&G) content in treated POME along with many environmental issues associated with the existing POME treatment process. The elimination of the cooling ponds and the insertion of a dewatering device in the treatment process were recommended. The dewatering device should enhance the anaerobic digestion process by conferring a means of control on the digesters’ load. The objective of this study is to identify the optimum solid: liquid ratio (total solids (TS) content) that would generate the maximum amount of biogas with better methane purity consistently throughout the anaerobic digestion of POME, all while improving the treated effluent quality. It was established that a 40S:60L (4.02% TS) was the best performing solid loading in terms of biogas production and methane yield as well as COD, BOD, TSS, and O&G removal efficiencies. Meanwhile, at higher solid loadings, the biogas production is inhibited due to poor transport and mass transfer. It is also speculated that sulfate-reducing bacteria tended to inhibit the biogas production based on the significantly elevated H2S concentration recorded for the 75S:25L and the 100S loadings.
- palm oil mill effluent
- solid loadings
- thermophilic aerobic digestion
- biogas production