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1 Department of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Denmark 2 Environmental Chemistry, Department of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Denmark 3 Residual Resource Engineering, Department of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Denmark
Titrimetric determination of volatile fatty acids (VFAs) contents is a common way to monitor a biogas process. However, digested manure from co-digestion biogas plants has a complex matrix with high concentrations of interfering components, resulting in varying results when using different titration procedures. Currently, no standardized procedure is used and it is therefore difficult to compare the performance among plants. The aim of this study was to evaluate four titration procedures (for determination of VFA-levels of digested manure samples) and compare results with gas chromatographic (GC) analysis. Two of the procedures are commonly used in biogas plants and two are discussed in literature. The results showed that the optimal titration results were obtained when 40mL of four times diluted digested manure was gently stirred (200rpm). Results from samples with different VFA concentrations (1-11g/L) showed linear correlation between titration results and GC measurements. However, determination of VFA by titration generally overestimated the VFA contents compared with GC measurements when samples had low VFA concentrations, i.e. around 1g/L. The accuracy of titration increased when samples had high VFA concentrations, i.e. around 5g/L. It was further found that the studied ionisable interfering components had lowest effect on titration when the sample had high VFA concentration. In contrast, bicarbonate, phosphate and lactate had significant effect on titration accuracy at low VFA concentration. An extended 5-point titration procedure with pH correction was best to handle interferences from bicarbonate, phosphate and lactate at low VFA concentrations. Contrary, the simplest titration procedure with only two pH end-points showed the highest accuracy among all titration procedures at high VFA concentrations. All in all, if the composition of the digested manure sample is not known, the procedure with only two pH end-points should be the procedure of choice, due to its simplicity and accuracy. © 2014 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Water Research, 2014, Vol 54, p. 262-272
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