Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from vinasse through anaerobic digestion
Abstract Vinasse is a residue from bioethanol production that is produced in large quantities in Brazil and Europe and is applied to fields as a source of plant nutrients (fertirrigation). A side effect of this use is greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during storage and transport in open channels to fields, and from fertirrigated soils. This study assessed GHG emissions in experiments simulating this vinasse management system, and the potential for reducing emissions of methane (CH 4 ) and nitrous oxide (N 2 O) from vinasse via anaerobic digestion (AD) in biogas plants. During 21days’ storage of untreated vinasse, 29% of dry matter (DM) and 40% of volatile solids (VS) were lost, which resulted in cumulative CH 4 emissions of up to 43.8kgCO 2eq kg −1 C-vinasse. In contrast, there were no CH 4 emissions from AD-treated vinasse (digestate) during storage. GHG emission was related to the biochemical characteristics of the untreated and digested vinasse. The accumulation of oxidised nitrogen (N) compounds was up to four-fold higher in soil amended with untreated vinasse than from digestate-amended soil. The N 2 O emissions from soil amended with untreated vinasse were also higher than from soil amended with digestate, ranging from 0.173 to 0.193kgCO 2eq m −2 in the former and from 0.045 to 0.100kgCO 2eq m −2 in the latter. Extrapolation of the results to a Brazilian case indicated that AD treatment prior to storage/transport and field application could reduce GHG emissions from the vinasse management chain by at least 48%, with further reductions from the use of biogas in power production. Highlights This study assessed the effect of AD treatment of vinasse on CH 4 and N 2 O emissions. CH 4 emissions were not detected from digested vinasse during storage. Anaerobic digestion increased NH 3 emissions from vinasse during storage. CH 4 emissions of untreated vinasse were equivalent to 43.8kgCO 2 eqkg −1 C-vinasse. AD of vinasse before soil application decreased N 2 O emissions by up to 78%.
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