National Research Council of Canada. Energy, Mining and Environment
Text, Book Chapter
The methane produced from the anaerobic digestion of organic wastes and energy crops represents an elegant and economical mean of generating renewable biofuel. Anaerobic digestion is a mature technology and is already used for the conversion of the organic fraction of municipal solid wastes and primary and secondary sludge from wastewater treatment plant. High methane yield up to 0.45 Nm3 CH<inf>4</inf>/kg volatile solids (VS) or 12,390 Nm3 CH<inf>4</inf>/ha can be achieved with sugar and starch crops, although these cultures are competing for high quality land with food and feed crops. The cultivation of lignocellulosic crops on marginal and set-aside lands is a more environmentally sound and sustainable option for renewable energy production. The methane yield obtained from these crops is lower, 0.17-0.39 Nm3 CH<inf>4</inf>/kg VS or 5,400 Nm3 CH<inf>4</inf>/ha, as its conversion into methane is facing the same initial barrier as for the production of ethanol, e.g., hydrolysis of the crops. Intensive research and development on efficient pretreatments is ongoing to optimize the net energy production, which is potentially greater than for liquid biofuels, since the whole substrate excepted lignin is convertible into methane. Algal biomass is another alternative to food and feed crops. Their relatively high methane potential (up to 0.45 Nm3 CH<inf>4</inf>/kg VS fed) combined with their higher areal biomass productivity make them particularly attractive as a feedstock for an anaerobic digestion-based biorefinery concept.
Microbial Technologies in Advanced Biofuels Production (12 November 2011): 143–161.