Assessment of Methods to Pretreat Microalgal Biomass for Enhanced Biogas Production
In anaerobic digestion of microalgae, the intracellular material may remain intact due to the non-ruptured membrane and/or cell wall, reducing the methane yield. Therefore, different pretreatment methods were evaluated for the solubilization of microalgae Scenedesmus sp. The anaerobic digestion of biomass hydrolyzed at 150 °C for 60 min with sulfuric acid 0.1% v/v showed higher methane yield (204-316 mL methane/g volatile solids applied) compared to raw biomass (104-163 mL methane/g volatile solids applied). The replacement of sulfuric acid with carbonic acid (by bubbling carbon dioxide up to pH 2.0) provided results similar to those obtained with sulfuric acid, reaching solubilization of 41.6% of the biomass. This result shows that part of the flue gas (containing carbon dioxide and other acid gases as well as high temperatures) may be used for the hydrolysis of the residual biomass from microalgae, thus lowering operational costs (e.g., energy consumption and chemical input).