Anaerobic treatment of Tequila vinasses in a CSTR-type digester

H.O. Méndez-Acosta
R. Snell-Castro
V. Alcaraz-González
C. Pelayo-Ortíz
V. González-Álvarez
Revista y/o libro: 
21(3), 357-363
Tequila industries in general produce great volumes of effluents with high pollutant loads, which are discharged (untreated or partially treated) into natural receivers, thus causing severe environmental problems. In this contribution, we propose an integrated system as a first step to comply with the Mexican ecological norms and stabilize the anaerobic treatment of Tequila vinasses with main design criteria: simple and easy operation, reduce operating time and associated costs (maintenance), integrated and compact design, minimal cost of set-up, start-up, monitoring and control. This system is composed of a fully instrumented and automated lab-scale CSTR-type digester, on-line measuring devices of key variables (pH, temperature, flow rates, etc.), which are used along with off-line readings of chemical oxygen demand (COD), biogas composition, alkalinity and volatile fatty acids to guarantee the operational stability of the anaerobic digestion process. The system performance was evaluated for 200 days and the experimental results show that even under the influence of load disturbances, it is possible to reduce the COD concentration to 85% in the start-up phase and up to 95% during the normal operation phase while producing a biogas with a methane composition greater than 65%. It is also shown that in order to maintain an efficient treatment, the buffering capacity (given by the alkalinity ratio, alpha = intermediate alkalinity/total alkalinity) must be closely monitored.