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Trapping the gas: more organic content means more methane

Malaysian research students at Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) found that if there is more organic content in sewage sludge it is possible to generate more methane.

Aminuddin Muhamad Baki and four other young researchers, supervised by Professor Suhaimi Abdul Talib, of UiTM, found that having more organic content in sludge will generate more methane. Biogas composed of methane and carbon dioxide is a by-product of anaerobic bacterial decomposition of organic waste.

The organic waste content of municipal garbage and sewage means that they are important sources for biogas production. The methane content in biogas enables it to be used as engine fuel as well as enabling it to be converted into heat and electricity. An experimental study was completed that examined the relationship between the organic content of sludge and methane generation as the sludge progressed through mesophilic anaerobic digestion.

This study examined the organic content in sewage, represented by Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) and Total Suspended Solid (TSS), in order to: (a) quantify the biogas and methane generation from sewage sludge; (b) determine the relationship between organic content and volume of methane; and (c) determine the pressure of biogas and the relationship between sludge volume and volume of biogas. It was found that there is potential for methane generation during anaerobic digestion even with a small volume of sludge.

The quality of sludge for methane generation is subject to the characteristics of the sludge. The organic content represented by BOD and TSS was measured in accordance to APHA standard methods (1998). Tests were conducted on wastewater from two treatment plants: the College of Mawar, UiTM, and IWK WWTP Section 7, Shah Alam. It was found that higher organic content in sewage sludge produced a higher volume of methane.

Aminuddin Muhamad Baki et al.

Megawati Omar | Research asia research news
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