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D. P. Chynoweth*, A. C. Wilkie**, and J. M. Owens*
*Dept. of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
**Soil and Water Science Department
University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
Written for Presentation at the
1998 ASAE Annual International Meeting
Sponsored by ASAE
Orlando, Florida
July 11-16, 1998

The swine industry is growing rapidly along with the world human population. Th
e trend is toward more concentrated piggeries with numbers in herds in the thous
ands. Associated with these increased herds are large quantities of wastes, inc
luding organic matter, inorganic nutrients, and gaseous emissions. The trend in
swine waste management is toward treatment of these wastes to minimize negative
impact on the health and comfort of workers and animals and on the atmosphere,
water, and soil environments. This review discusses the present and future role
of anaerobic processes in piggery waste treatment with emphasis on reactor desi
gn, operating and performance parameters, and effluent processing.

Piggery wastes, swine wastes, anaerobic treatment, anaerobic digestion, biogas


D. P. Chynoweth*, A. C. Wilkie**, and J. M. Owens*
*Dept. of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
**Soil and Water Science Department
University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

A paper presented at the pre-conference session:

Management of Feed Resources and Animal Waste for Sustainable Animal
Production in Asia-Pacific Region Beyond 2000
Eighth World Conference on Animal Production
June 28 - July 4, 1998
Seoul, Korea

The swine industry is growing rapidly along with the world human population. Th
e trend is toward more concentrated piggeries with numbers of herds in the thous
ands. Associated with these increased herds are large quantities of wastes, inc
luding organic matter, inorganic nutrients, and gaseous emissions. The trend in
swine waste management is toward treatment of these wastes to minimize negative
impact on the health and comfort of workers and animals and on the atmosphere,
water, and soil environments. Treatment of these wastes has traditionally invol
ved land application, lagoons, oxidation ditches, and conventional batch and con
tinuously stirred reactor designs. More sophisticated treatment systems are bei
ng implemented, involving advanced anaerobic digester designs, integrated with s
olids separation, aerobic polishing of digester effluents, and biological nutrie
nt removal. This review discusses the present and future role of anaerobic proc
esses in piggery waste treatment with emphasis on reactor design, operating and
performance parameters, and effluent processing.
The swine industry is growing rapidly as more people in developing countries can
afford and acquire a taste for more meat in their diet, including pork. In the
past 16 years, the annual global production of swine has increased from 790 mil
lion to 926 million with most of that increase occurring in China, India, and ot
her emerging countries (FAO, 1990, 1991, 1995, 1996). In past years, piggeries
were small (hundreds or less animals) and wastes were disposed of on the same la
nd used to grow the feed, serving as fertilizer and soil conditioner. The incre
ased demand for pork has resulted in establishment of larger centralized piggeri
es with herds frequently exceeding 1,000 and sometimes more than 10,000 head (Ha
tfield et. al, 1998). Wastes from these facilities exceed the capacity for dire
ct land disposal without severe environmental impacts, including odor, attractio
n of rodents, insects and other pests, and release of animal pathogens, atmosphe
ric methane and ammonia, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other nutrients into ground a
nd surface waters.
The characteristics of swine wastes vary with a number of factors, including the
age and diet of the pigs, type of housing or confinement, and waste removal and
pre-processing (Day & Funk, 1998; USDA, 1992; Zhang & Felmann, 1997). The wast
es are either scraped or hydraulically flushed into a holding basin, after which
they are treated directly or after solids separation. Commonly used systems fo
r removal of organic matter include aerobic and anaerobic lagoons, oxidation dit
ches, and anaerobic digestion. More advanced systems include tertiary treatment
operations, such as oxidation ponds, aquatic plants, wetlands, and denitrificat
ion units.
This review addresses the current and future role of anaerobic processes for swi
ne waste management. Anaerobic digestion has been applied in a variety of forms
and scales to stabilize the organic matter in these wastes. This process resul
ts in effective organic matter and pathogen reduction with production of a usefu
l fuel and compost. Properly operated anaerobic digesters result in reduction o
f odors associated with these wastes (Wilkie, 1998). Anaerobic treatment may al
so play an important role in nutrient removal. Following aerobic oxidation of a
mmonia to nitrate, nitrogen may be removed by anaerobic denitrification. Phosph
orus removal may also be enhanced by anaerobic pretreatment, which results in fo
rmation of organic acids that enhance phosphorus uptake in aerobic processes. A
lgae ponds and wetlands have also been applied for effluent polishing and nutrie
nt removal.
The review summarizes the characteristics of piggery wastes, the role of anaerob
ic treatment of organic matter, the role of anaerobic digestion in reduction of
pathogens and gaseous emissions, and anaerobic treatment of nitrogen and phospho
rus. It also discusses integrated treatment systems that use anaerobic processe
s and future trends in utilization of anaerobic treatment of piggery wastes.


Global Production
Worldwide swine populations by region and select countries for the periods of 19
79-81, 1989-91, and 1996 are presented in Table 1. The number of pigs in the wor
ld are about one billion, or one

Table 1. World Population of Swine (1000 Head; FAO, 1990,

1991, 1995, 1996 1995, 1996)
REGIONS 1979-81 1989-91 1996
World 779,506 854,213 927,354
Asia 368,702 433,194 535,844
Europe 173,384 182,930 166,963
North and Cent. America 97,327 87,012 96,644
South America 51,722 52,378 56,122
Africa 10,155 16,522 21,652
China 313,660 360,247 452,198
USA 64,045 54,557 60,190
Brazil 34,102 33,643 35,350
Germany 34,468 33,350 24,698
Mexico 16,895 15,715 18,000
Viet Nam -- 12,225 17,200
France 11,472 12,233 14,523
Canada 9,709 10,505 12,043
India 9,433 11,193 11,900
Denmark 9,669 9,390 10,709
Korea -- 8,007 10,300
Japan 9,851 11,673 10,200
Philippines 7,712 7,968 8,941
Italy 8,885 9,150 7,984

per six persons. By region, the largest numbers are in Asia, followed by North
and Central America, South America, and Africa. By country, the largest numbers
are in China followed by the U.S., Brazil, and Germany. The most significant i
ncreases in numbers have occurred in certain emerging countries such as China, V
ietnam, Korea, and India while numbers have decreased in several developed count
ries, including the U.S., Germany, and Italy. These trends may be attributed to
a number of factors, such as improved economies resulting in higher meat consum
ption and export by emerging countries, and reduced meat consumption and environ
mental regulations in developed countries. Estimates of global production of sw
ine wastes are presented in Table 2.
Future Trends in Wastes Production
The numbers of swine and associated quantities of wastes are likely to increase
greatly over the next several decades due to the projected increase in human pop
ulation and the trend of developing countries, with the highest rates of populat
ion increase, to shift to diets with a higher meat content. This will be offset
to some extent by reduced red meat (including pork) consumption by the more dev
eloped countries. For example, in the U.S., the market share of red meat has de
creased from 74% in 1970 to 59% in 1994 (Zhang & Felmann, 1997). The projected
world human population increase of 27% by 2020 (US, 1997) should result in at le
ast the same increase in numbers of swine.

Table 2. World Swine Waste Production by Region (Safley et al., 1992)

Region Total Manure,
Mt/day (wet) Volatile Solids,
Asia and Far East 1,663,466 168,010
Eastern Europe 788,722 77,641
Western Europe 570,932 57,664
North America 345,490 34,960
Latin America 320,415 32,362
Africa 52,519 5,286
Oceania 24,079 2,432
Near East and Mediterranean 830 84
Total 3,746,273 378,439

Swine Production Facilities
The trend in developed and developing countries is to change from small piggerie
s, where the feed is grown and wastes are land applied locally, to fewer piggeri
es with greater numbers per facility and import of feed. This results in large q
uantities of wastes which must now be treated in order to prevent major environm
ental impact. Also, odors from larger facilities are objectionable to nearby co
mmunities. Swine operations are often separated into feeder pig producers (up t
o 18 kg; 60 days) and feeder pig finishing (98 kg or larger; 150-160 days). The
traditional operators raise a pig from birth to death (farrow to finish). The
trend in swine housing is confinement in open feedlots or slanted floor units (D
ay & Funk, 1998; Zhang & Felmann, 1997). Manure is collected by scraping and la
nd applied (with or without prior treatment), or hydraulically flushed from slan
ted or slatted floor housing where the diluted waste is stored under the house o
r transported to storage tanks, lagoons, or other waste treatment systems. In s
ome cases, treated wastewater is reused for flushing. Table 3 indicates that li
quid flush systems prevail in developed countries, while dry storage and drylot
systems are more common in emerging countries.
Physical and Chemical Characteristics
Typical values for swine waste characteristics as excreted and as collected in s
torage tanks and lagoons and of runoff water and sludges from feedlots are prese
nted in Tables 4, 5, 6, and 7 (Day & Funk, 1998; USDA, 1992; Zhang & Felmann, 19
97). These data are useful in predicting environmental impact and designing sys
tems for waste treatment.
Environmental Impact
In past years, swine herds were small and wastes could be applied to land used t
o produce feed and other crops. In contemporary concentrated piggeries with lar
ge herds, wastes may exceed the carrying capacity of local ecosystems and are a
potential cause of a number of pollution and health problems related to their or
ganic matter, nutrients, pathogens, odors, dust, and airborne microorganisms (Zh
ang and Felmann, 1997).
Table 3. Global Swine Waste Management System Usage (percent) (Safley et al., 1
Region Anaerobic
Lagoons Liquid
Systemsa Daily
Spread Dry Storage
and Drylot Other
Asia 1 38 1 53 0
Eastern Europe 8 39 0 52 1
Western Europe 0 77 0 23 6
North America 25 50 0 18 6
Latin America 0 8 2 51 40
Africa 0 7 0 93 0
Oceania 55 0 0 0 28
Near East and Mediterranean 0 32 0 68 0
Global Average 5 42 1 45 5
aIncludes liquid/slurry and pit storage
bIncludes deep pit stacks, litter, and other

Table 4. Typical Body Mass and Waste Production and

Characteristics per day per 1000kg of Swine (Day & Funk, 1998)
Parameter Mean Std. Dev.
Live Weight, kg 61 --
Total Manure, kg 84 24
Urine, kg 39 4.8
Density, kg/m3 990 24
Total Solids, kg 11 6.3
Volatile Solids. kg 8.5 0.66
BOD5, kg 3.1 0.72
COD, kg 8.4 3.7
pH 7.5 0.57
TKN, kg* 0.52 0.21
Ammonia-N, kg* 0.29 0.10
Total P, kg 0.18 0.10
Ortho-P, kg 0.12 --

Table 5. Production and Characteristics of Fresh Manure by Pigs (Zhang & Felman
n, 1997)
Parameter Nursery Growing Finishing Gestation
Sow Sow and
Litter Boar
Size, kg 15.9 29.5 68.1 125 170 159
Manure, kg/day 1.0 1.9 4.4 4.0 14.9 5.0
TS, kg/day 0.091 0.18 0.41 0.36 1.36 0.45
VS, kg/day 0.077 0.14 0.33 0.30 1.09 0.420
BOD5 0.032 0.059 0.14 0.12 0.45 0.16
N, kg/day 0.007 0.013 0.031 0.028 0.10 0.035
P2O5, kg/day 0.005 0.010 0.023 0.022 0.078 0.027
K2O, kg/day 0.005 0.11 0.024 0.022 0.082 0.028
Table 6. Swine Waste Characteristics From Storage Tanks
Under Slats (USDA, 1992)
Component Farrow Nursery Finish Breeding
Moisture, % 96.5 96.0 91.0 97.0
TS, % w.b. 3.50 4.00 9.00 3.00
VS, % w.b. 2.28 2.79 6.74 1.80
FS, % w.b. 1.22 1.71 2.26 1.20
N, g/L 3.6 4.8 6.3 3.0
NH4-N, g/L 2.8 4.0 - -
P, g/L 1.8 1.6 2.7 1.2
K, g/L 2.8 1.6 2.2 2.1
C:N Ratio 4 3 6 3

Table 7. Swine Waste Characteristics From Storage/Treatment Facilities (USDA, 1

Anaerobic Lagoon Feedlot*
Component Sludge Supernatant Settled Sludge Runoff Water
Moisture, % 92.4 99.8 88.8 98.5
TS, % w.b. 7.60 0.25 11.2 1.5
VS, % w.b. 4.68 0.12 90.7** --
FS, % w.b. 2.92 0.13 21.3** --
BOD5, g/L -- 0.40 -- --
COD, g/L 64.6 1.2 -- --
N, g/L 3.0 0.35 5.6** 2.0**
NH4-N, g/L 0.76 0.22 4.5** 1.2**
P, g/L 2.7 0.13 2.2** 0.38**
K, g/L 7.6 0.38 10.0** 1.10**
C:N Ratio 8 2 -- --
*Semi-humid climate (76 cm annual rainfall); annual sludge removal
**kg/d/1000kg animal weight

Organic matter is concentrated and undergoes anaerobic decomposition producing o

dors related to hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, volatile acids, and other compounds.
The highly biodegradable organic matter also attracts pests, including insects
and rodents. Organic matter may also cause oxygen depletion in surface waters a
nd other undesired effects related to color, turbidity, and taste and odor. Whe
n organic matter undergoes decomposition under highly anaerobic conditions, meth
ane (a major greenhouse gas) is released into the atmosphere (Safley et al., 199
2; USEPA, 1993).
Nutrients each have their own impacts on surface and ground water. Nitrogen may
be released as ammonia into the atmosphere, where it acts as a greenhouse gas a
nd contributes to acid rain in its oxidized form. Ammonia may also react with n
itrate in the atmosphere to form ammonium nitrate particles which contribute to
smog and health problems. High ammonia levels in swine houses may also cause ey
e irritation, respiratory problems, and illness in workers and animals. The rec
ommended maximum acceptable level for human and animal occupancy is 10 ppm (Morr
ison et al., 1991).
In surface waters, nitrogen in the form of ammonia or nitrates causes blooms of
algae and aquatic plants which contribute to eutrophication and their decomposit
ion may lead to anaerobic conditions. These blooms, caused also by phosphorus,
may consist of highly toxic algae (Pfiesteria) in brackish waters and have been
implicated in kills of fish and other aquatic life, and as a cause of adverse he
alth effects on humans and animals (Lusk, 1998). Ammonia is toxic to life in su
rface waters (Zhang & Felmann, 1997). Concentrations as low as 0.08 mg/L have b
een shown to cause trout kills. Runoff from swine raising operations and manure
-fertilized fields commonly contains 200-200 mg/L ammonia which is well above th
e recommended USEPA standard of 0.02 mg/L (USDA, 1992). Nitrates in groundwate
r may cause significant health problems in human and animal development leading
to methemoglobinemia, a disease causing oxygen starvation of developing tissues
and possible death. The USEPA drinking water standard for nitrate-N is 10 mg/L
(USDA, 1992). At elevated levels, nitrates are also toxic to fish and other aqu
atic organisms.
Sulfides are generated from degradation of protein and other sulfur-containing c
ompounds in swine wastes. These may be toxic to aquatic organisms and cause odo
rs and toxicity in swine-housing (Donham, 1991; Morrison et al., 1991). Hydrog
en sulfide, detectable as an odor at concentrations as low as 0.005 ppm, causes
loss of appetite, vomiting, and nausea at 50-500 ppm, and is lethal at 1000 ppm.
Swine wastes contain pathogens and coliform bacteria and other microbial indicat
ors of fecal pollution (CAST, 1996; Zhang & Felmann, 1997). Although the pathog
ens are mainly host specific, certain diseases such as salmonellosis, Q fever, N
ewcastle disease, histoplasmosis, cryptosporidiosis, and gardiasis may be transm
itted by swine waste. Fecal indicator organisms originating from swine wastes m
ake it impossible to distinguish the presence of animal or human fecal pollution
. Pathogens in the wastewater may also result in cross-infection of the swine.
Dust and bioaerosols from animal feed and manure may cause health problems in an
imals and workers if not controlled by ventilation and other means (Morrison et
al., 1991; Zhang & Felmann, 1997). They may cause infectious and respiratory di
seases, reduced immune response, allergies, and discomfort.
Odors are a major environmental problem with large piggeries (Davidson et al., 1
995; Wilkie et al., 1995a). These are caused by numerous volatile compounds suc
h as ammonia, amines, volatile fatty acids, mercaptans, carbonyls, phenols, and
indoles. Odor threshold concentrations are very low and are a major factor limi
ting location of these facilities.
Laws, Regulations, Policy
In response to the increased environmental impact of intensive rearing facilitie
s for swine and other livestock, several laws, regulations, and policies designe
d to protect public health and the environment are being called into enforcement
as they apply to these industries in the U.S. (Weitman, 1995).
Control of methane, ammonia, and dust emissions may fall under the jurisdiction
of agencies charged with enforcing the Clean Air Act which addresses the air qua
lity of the nation.
The Clean Water Act regulates animal feeding operations considered to be point s
ources of pollution by requiring permits issued by the National Pollution Discha
rge Elimination System (NDPES). Whether a piggery or other operation falls unde
r the jurisdiction of this Act depends on the number of animal units (1000 anima
l units equals 2,500 swine), type of confinement, days of operation, and nature
of the water receiving discharge. For example, Category 1 includes operations w
ith over 1,000 animal units; confines, feeds, or maintains animals for a total o
f 45 days or more in a year; and does not sustain any crops, vegetative forage,
or harvest residues. The NDPES permit for this category stipulates that there m
ust be a storage facility to contain all of the manure plus processing water and
runoff from a 25-year, 24-hour storm event. Monitoring is required at least on
ce per year and a plan for nutrient management must be approved and implemented.
Smaller facilities must submit plans based on Best Available Technology (BAT)
that is economically achievable and Best Conventional Pollutant Control Technolo
gy (BCPCT) based on professional judgment. The Clean Water Act also regulates n
on-point source pollution by requiring states to devise a comprehensive plan tha
t addresses contributors. This involves voluntary adoption of Best Management P
ractices (BMPs) which are encouraged by educational programs, training, financia
l and technical assistance, and demonstration projects.
The Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments (CZARA) of 1990 regulates animal
operations in 35 states which have coastal area watersheds. These facilities a
re regulated exclusive of those under the Clean Water Act. These regulations re
quire storage and treatment of wastewater and stormwater, waste treatment, and n
utrient management. Existing facilities in the U.S. under these regulations for
swine have 100-200 head. Odor problems are becoming more prevalent due to the
increased scale of intensive livestock operations and urban encroachment into ru
ral areas; these problems are subject to the common laws of nuisance. Farmers a
re still protected to some extent from these complaints by the Right-to-Farm law
s. Federal and state incentives are alternatives to regulation. For example, t
he Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides cost sharing of up t
o 75% of the costs of pollution prevention practices.
Ultimately, the tax payer, consumer, and producer must pay the price for mainten
ance of environmental quality. The cost of environmental pollution is difficult
to assess as the effects are usually indirect and long-term. Whatever the case
, human activities, including animal production must strive for sustainablity wh
ich will cost more.
Anaerobic digestion may be defined as the engineered methanogenic anaerobic deco
mposition of organic matter. This process, occurring naturally in anaerobic env
ironments such as sediments, soils, and animal guts, involves a mixed consortium
of different species of anaerobic microoganisms that function in concert to deg
rade organic matter and complete the carbon cycle for a large fraction of organi
c matter (Chynoweth, 1996). Non-methanogenic populations depolymerize organic p
olymers and ferment them to acetate (sometimes via other acids and fermentation
products), hydrogen, and carbon dioxide. Different methanogenic bacteria conver
t acetic acid, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide to methane (Boone et al., 1993; Smit
h & Frank, 1988). Most, but not all organic matter can be decomposed by this fe
rmentation without chemical or physical pretreatment. Lignin is the major natur
al compound that is refractory to anaerobic decomposition. Other organics, such
as cellulose, may be resistant to degradation when complexed tightly with ligni
n (e.g., in pine wood) or contained in biomass that contains methanogenic inhibi
tors (e.g., in eucalyptus wood).
Anaerobic digestion has been applied for decades for treatment of domestic sludg
es, animal wastes, industrial wastes (McCarty, 1992), and more recently for the
organic fraction of municipal solid wastes (Chynoweth & Isaacson, 1987). It has
also been the subject of research for production of substitute natural gas (SNG
) from wastes, energy crops, including terrestrial herbaceous and woody energy c
rops, and aquatic (freshwater and marine) energy crops (Chynoweth & Pullammanapp
allil, 1996; Legrand, 1993; Smith et al., 1988; Smith et al., 1992). Whatever t
he application, anaerobic digestion produces a useful energy form (methane) and
a stabilized residue that can be subsequently applied to land as a soil amendmen
t. Currently, its most common applications are treatment of domestic sludges, i
ndustrial wastes, and animal wastes. Its wider use has been hampered by the low
cost of fossil-based energy, limited regulations on waste processing, a history
of process instability, and greater knowledge and popularity of aerobic process
es. However, the climate is changing for this technology with incentives to re
place fossil fuels with renewable “greener” energy forms and stricter regulations on
management of organic wastes that will require more costly in-vessel systems co
mpared to land application, landfilling, or crude open lagoons.

A typical swine waste treatment system is shown in Figure 1. The wastes are tra
nsported directly or after

Figure 1. Illustration of Collection and Management Options for Piggery Wastes

concentration into a digestion vessel which may vary in design from a lagoon to
a mixed,
non-mixed plug-flow, or attached film reactor. The operating temperature may be
ambient, mesophilic (35oC), or thermophilic (55oC). The effluent is stored and
land applied on a seasonal basis. The supernatant may be further treated for n
utrient removal prior to discharge into receiving waters. The biogas is used ei
ther directly for heating or for operation of internal combustion engines to run
equipment or generate electricity.
Feed Characteristics
Design and operating parameters of anaerobic treatment systems are largely depen
dent upon the influent total solids (TS) concentration (Chynoweth, 1987; Chynowe
th & Isaacson, 1987). For swine wastes, the excreted concentration is about 10%
and becomes diluted with urine and further diluted with flush water (in liquid
systems), or concentrated when bedding is used in dry storage systems (Day & Fu
nk, 1998; Sweeten et al., 1981; Zhang & Felmann, 1997). A typical concentration
for tanks under slats is 3-4%. For a specific organic loading rate, the hydrau
lic retention time (HRT) of conventional stirred tank reactor
(CSTR) anaerobic digesters increases inversely with the total solids concentrati
on. At very low concentrations (<1-2% TS), attached-film reactors can be used t
o substantially reduce the HRT by concentrating microorganisms on media to preve
nt their washout (Wilkie & Colleran, 1989). The characteristics of wastes are i
nfluenced more by dilution, storage, and separation practices rather than by die
t or other factors (Hatfield et al., 1998).
Wastes may also be separated into solids and liquid fractions by various techniq
ues, including sedimentation, mechanical screening, centrifugation, and pressing
. Separation not only segregates the wastes for optimization of digester design
, but also facilitates manure handling with pumps, pipelines, and sprayers. As
discussed below, it also provides for improved odor control. For digestion, the
solids fraction can be treated in a conventional CSTR or plug-flow design and t
he liquid in a lagoon or a low-HRT attached-film design.
Day (1998) and Zhang (1997) reviewed the design, performance, and economics of a
variety of separations techniques. In general, the capital and operating costs
are high and must be justified by the overall goals and economics of the pigger
y operation. The vibrating screen separator has been shown to be effective for
separating flushed swine waste into solid and liquid fractions. Detailed mass b
alances are presented by Holmberg (1982) for the effect of screen mesh size and
flow rate on separation of organic matter and nutrients. Analysis of the effec
t of an optimum screening regime (60 mesh and flow rates of 457-685 L/min) by Hi
ll (1984), indicated that about 44% of the biodegradable organic matter and 64%
of the total nitrogen passes through the screen. A model for predicting vibrat
ing screen performance is presented by Ngoddy (1974) .
Ultimate biodegradability under anaerobic conditions is determined by long-term
incubations and is measured in terms of methane yield and reduction in organic m
atter. Reported ultimate biodegradability (Bo) is useful in kinetic analyses an
d has been reported in the range of 0.32 to 0.48 m3 CH4/kg VS (Andreadakis, 1992
; Hashimoto, 1984; Hill & Bolte, 1984; Iannotti et al., 1979; Safley & Westerman
, 1990). This corresponds to volatile solids (VS) reductions in the range of 40
-60%. These parameters are largely dependent upon the composition and digestibi
lity of the feed ration. In full-scale digesters, the ultimate digestibility is
seldom achieved because of retention time limitations. Iannotti (1979) reported
a detailed analysis of digester feed and effluent properties including organic
components (Table 8). Carbohydrates are the major components followed by protei
ns, lipids, and lignin. The waste composition
would be significantly influenced by the animal diet. Lignin is not only refrac
tory to anaerobic degradation, but also reduces availability of other components
, especially cellulose.
(feed blends and effect of diet blends)
Blending of swine wastes with other organic wastes may be attractive, especially
with high-solids feedstocks. Swine wastes provide excess nutrients and high-so
lids feedstocks serve as bulking agents, increasing the solids content of the bl
ends. Studies have evaluated swine waste blended with wheat

Table 8. Digestibility of Organic Matter During Anaerobic Digestion of Piggery

Wastes (Iannotti et al., 1979) (Finishing hogs fed 14% protein ration with corn
or milo; mesophilic digester with retention time of 15 days).
Component Influent % Destroyed
TS, % 6.9 52
VS, %TS 82.6 60
COD, g/L 73.8 58
total N, g/L 3.9 --
protein, %TS 19.3 47
hemicellulose, %TS 20.1 65
cellulose, %TS 12.4 64
lipids 14.8 69
starch 1.6 94
lignin 4.4 3

straw (Llabres-Luengo & Mata-Alvarez, 1987), corn stover (Fujita et al., 1980),
algae and water hyacinth (Campos & d'Almeida Duarte, 1992), and sewage sludge (W
ong, 1990). Wong (1989) investigated a variety of agro-industrial additives, in
cluding cardboard, newspaper, sawdust, and sugarcane wastes.
Mixtures of swine waste with sawdust or cardboard gave the highest methane yield
s. Residues from sugarcane blends with pig wastes exhibited the highest fertili
zer value. Wastes from pigs fed different sources of fiber (oat hulls, maize hu
lls, lupin hulls, maize cobs, soya bean hulls, pea hulls, wheat bran,
lucerne stems, and lucerne leaves) exhibited different extents and rates of biod
egradability during anaerobic digestion (Stanogias et al., 1985) . Volatile sol
ids destruction ranged from 45% for wastes from the lucerne leaf diet to 80.4% f
rom the maize hull diet.
Reactor Designs
The goals in selecting an appropriate anaerobic digester design are to maximize
volatile solids (VS) conversion and associated methane yields, increase conversi
on rates and process stability, decrease process energy requirements, and ultima
tely achieve a reliable system with the lowest possible installation and operati
ng costs. Odor control may also be a primary concern. No single reactor design
is suitable for all applications in treatment of piggery wastes. Major factors
influencing selection include:
• chemical characteristics of feed
• concentration of feed biodegradable matter
• concentration of feed particulate solids
• density of raw and digested feed
• scale of application
• continuity of feed availability
• desired products
• site
The designs most commonly used for treatment of swine wastes are lagoon, batch,
fed-batch, completely-mixed, and plug-flow. Several new high-rate designs have
been developed to retain solids and microorganisms and are particularly suitable
for treatment of dilute wastes from flush systems or liquid fractions of separa
ted wastes (Wilkie & Colleran, 1989). The principles of these various reactor d
esigns are discussed below, and operating and performance data for several diffe
rent reactor configurations are summarized in Table 9.
Table 9. Operating and performance data for different digester designs (CSTR)
Reference (Hashimoto, 1983)
(Hashimoto, 1983)
(Stevens & Schulte, 1979)
(Mills, 1977)
(Fischer et al., 1979)
(Zhang et al., 1990)
(Iannotti et al., 1979)
Operational Data
Volume, m3 0.004 0.004 2.500 13.500 140.000 199.000 0.420
Temp, oC 55 35 22.5 35 35 35 35
Type of waste whole whole whole flushed farrow-finish whole
Infl. TS, % w.b. 6.36% 6.36% 5.48% 4.30% 3.00% 6.88%
Infl. VS, % w.b. 5.04% 5.04% 3.57% 1.50% 2.38% 5.69%
Infl. COD, g L-1 52.10 52.10 74.30 74.30 41.35 0.07
OLR, kg VS m-3 d-1 10.08 10.08 1.80 1.30 1.70 3.78
OLR, kg COD m-3 d-1 7.43
HRT, d 5.00 5.00 20.00 10.00 14.00 15.00
Performance Data
MY, m3 kg VS added-1 0.31 0.26 0.29
MY, m3 kg COD added-1 0.14
MPR, m3 m-3 d-1 3.12 2.69 0.52 0.79 0.57 0.52
VS redn., % 50.2 43.7 22.4 60.0 66.0 60.0
COD redn., % 35.7 51.0 73.0 58.0
Effl. N, g L-1 3.34 3.29 3.66 2.24 0.38 2.25 3.97
Effl. P, g L-1
Gas Quality, % CH4 61.1 64.2 63.0 60.0 64.0 59.0

Table 9. Operating and performance data for different digester designs (CSTR and
Reference (van Velsen, 1977)
(van Velsen et al., 1979)
(Petersen, 1982)
(Cavallero & Genon, 1984)
(Maekawa et al., 1995)
Operational Data
Reactor type CSTR CSTR CSTR CSTR two-phase
Volume, m3 0.240 6.000 40.000 0.050 1.300
Temp, oC 32 30 37 35 38
Type of waste whole whole whole supernatant whole diluted
Infl. TS, % w.b. 7.50 5.83 2.30 4.00
Infl. VS, % w.b. 5.40 4.39 5.53 1.38
Infl. COD, g L-1 80.30 51.75 32.09
OLR, kg VS m-3 d-1 4.50 2.64 2.12 4.74
OLR, kg COD m-3 d-1 6.70 2.57
HRT, d 12.00 27.00 12.50 6.75
Performance Data
MY, m3 kg VS added-1 0.35 0.29
MY, m3 kg COD added-1
MPR, m3 m-3 d-1 0.90 0.61 0.72 1.41
VS redn., % 38.3 46.0 41.2
COD redn., % 40.3 34.2
Effl. N, g L-1 2.32
Effl. P, g L-1
Gas Quality, % CH4 76.3 63.3 78.5 60.1
Table 9. Operating and performance data for different digester designs (attache
Reference (Chou et al., 1997)
(Bolte et al., 1986)
(Bolte et al., 1986)
(Nordstedt & Thomas, 1985)
(Hill & Bolte, 1988)
(Hill & Bolte, 1986)
Reactor type AF upflow immobile cells AF, nylon mesh & polyurethane fo
am AF, nylon mesh & polyurethane foam AF, oak wood blocks AF, poly
ester felt AF, nylon mesh
Volume, m3 0.014 0.005 0.005 0.005 0.300 0.300
Temp, oC 37 35 55 31.1 35 35
Type of waste screened, diluted flushed, screened flushed, screene
d settled supernatent flushed screened flushed screened
Infl. TS, % w.b. 1.33 1.42 2.02 1.88 1.89
Infl. VS, % w.b. 1.03 1.13 1.43 1.50 1.56
Infl. COD, g L-1 7.50 16.11 17.80 33.47 19.69 21.10
OLR, kg VS m-3 d-1 3.44 11.34 7.22 7.50 7.80
OLR, kg COD m-3 d-1 7.50
HRT, d 1.00 3.00 1.00 2.00 2.00 2.00
MY, m3 kg VS added-1 0.30 0.22 0.23 0.37 0.27
MY, m3 kg COD added-1 0.12 0.29 0.20
MPR, m3 m-3 d-1 0.90 1.03 2.43 1.68 2.80 2.15
VS redn., % 46.5 40.6 38.4 51.0 42.9
COD redn., % 61.0 49.7 34.5 51.7 46.2 42.1
Effl. N, g L-1 0.97 0.98 0.87 0.82
Effl. P, g L-1
Gas Quality, % CH4 77.0 71.0 67.7 79.2 62.5 60.5

Table 9. Operating and performance data for different digester designs(attached-

Reference (Wilkie & Colleran, 1986)
(Wilkie & Colleran, 1986)
(Sorlini et al., 1990)
(Sorlini et al., 1990)
(Sorlini et al., 1990)
(Hasheider & Sievers, 1983)
Reactor type AF, polypropylene rings AF, polypropylene rings
AF, wood chips AF, PVC
AF, expanded clay AF, limestone
Volume, m3 2.800 2.800 0.015 0.015 0.015 0.003
Temp, oC 25 35 30 30 30 35
Type of waste settled supernatent settled supernatent whole whole
whole screened diluted
Infl. TS, % w.b. 1.33 1.45 0.62 0.62 0.62
Infl. VS, % w.b. 0.87 0.96 0.40 0.40 0.40 0.60
Infl. COD, g L-1 25.20 29.60 5.73 5.73 5.73
OLR, kg VS m-3 d-1 6.00
OLR, kg COD m-3 d-1 8.40 9.90 0.73 1.18 0.54
HRT, d 3.00 3.00 7.89 4.84 10.71 1.00
MY, m3 kg VS added-1 0.21 0.14 0.03 0.23
MY, m3 kg COD added-1 0.17 0.22
MPR, m3 m-3 d-1 1.47 2.18 0.21 0.21 0.21 0.90
VS redn., % 60.0 64.7 13.5 41.9
COD redn., % 52.0 60.0
Effl. N, g L-1 0.41
Effl. P, g L-1
Gas Quality, % CH4 87.0 87.0 72.0 77.0 68.0 71.0

Table 9. Operating and performance data for different digester designs(attached-

film and UASB)
Reference (Ng & Chin, 1988)
(Wilkie & Colleran, 1984)
(Lo et al., 1994)
(Foresti & de Oliveira, 1995)
(Owens, 1988)
Reactor type AF, activated carbon AF, clay UASB UASB UASB
Volume, m3 0.004 0.180 0.015 0.011 0.002
Temp, oC na 33 25 25 20.7
Type of waste whole settled supernatent screened diluted screened
diluted flushed screened
Infl. TS, % w.b. 0.40 1.51
Infl. VS, % w.b.
Infl. COD, g L-1 7.80 30.05 12.00 3.73 8.84
OLR, kg VS m-3 d-1
OLR, kg COD m-3 d-1 14.20 5.00 3.58 4.50 4.40
HRT, d 0.75 6.00 3.28 0.83 2.00
MY, m3 kg VS added-1 0.05
MY, m3 kg COD added-1 0.39
MPR, m3 m-3 d-1 0.46 1.93 0.71 0.13
VS redn., % 57.0 44.4
COD redn., % 78.0 73.3 87.0 53.6
Effl. N, g L-1 0.23
Effl. P, g L-1
Gas Quality, % CH4 84.3 87.0 67.0 80.0
Table 9. Operating and performance data for different digester designs (plug-flo
w, baffle-flow, lagoons)
Reference [Yang, 1985a #89] (Floyd & Hawkes, 1986)
(Boopathy & Sievers, 1991)
(Yang & Chou, 1985)
(Chandler et al., 1983)
(Safley & Westerman, 1988)
Reactor type plug-flow with recycle Tubular ABR ABR Anaerobic Lagoon
Anaerobic Lagoon
Volume, m3 11.500 0.013 0.010 0.020 19,000
Temp, oC 26 30 35 30 ambient
Type of waste whole diluted whole whole settled supernatent flushed
Infl. TS, % w.b. 5.30 5.17 0.7
Infl. VS, % w.b. 0.79 3.88 3.86 0.09
Infl. COD, g L-1 58.50 1.77
OLR, kg VS m-3 d-1 5.27 4.00 1.75 0.11 0.16
OLR, kg COD m-3 d-1 3.53
HRT, d 1.50 10.00 15.00 0.50 53-60
MY, m3 kg VS added-1 0.14 0.25 0.50 0.23
MY, m3 kg COD added-1 0.07 0.04 0.11
MPR, m3 m-3 d-1 0.71 0.96 2.01 0.04-0.05 0.03 (biogas)
VS redn., % 88.7 61.0 75
COD redn., % 62.0 28.8
Effl. N, g L-1 1.10 0.14 0.24
Effl. P, g L-1
Gas Quality, % CH4 67.5 63.0 62.0 69
Table 9. Operating and performance data for different digester designs (sequenci
ng batch reactors)
Reference (Zhang et al., 1997)
(Zhang et al., 1997)
(Masse et al., 1993)
(Hill et al., 1985)
Reactor type SBR SBR SBR SBR
Volume, m3 0.012 0.012 0.025 0.454
Temp, oC 25 25 20 35
Type of waste screened diluted screened diluted screened
whole, scraped
Infl. TS, % w.b. 4.80% 12.77%
Infl. VS, % w.b. 0.90% 3.30% 3.00% 10.82%
Infl. COD, g L-1 84.00
OLR, kg VS m-3 d-1 4.50 5.50 0.02
OLR, kg COD m-3 d-1 1.20
HRT, d 2.00 6.00 78.00 60.00
MY, m3 kg VS added-1 0.24 0.23 0.76 0.33
MY, m3 kg COD added-1
MPR, m3 m-3 d-1 1.08 1.28
VS redn., % 39.0% 40.0% 56.0% 46.4%
COD redn., % 73.0%
Effl. N, g L-1 0.89 2.47
Effl. P, g L-1
Gas Quality, % CH4 72.0% 61.0% 63.0% 59.8%

(anaerobic lagoon)
An anaerobic lagoon is a deep pond (~5 meters) with steep sides which is not ae
rated and operates largely under anaerobic conditions. The surface may be cover
ed (Chandler et al., 1983; Safley & Westerman, 1989) to facilitate biogas colle
ction and odor reduction. Lagoons operate at ambient temperature, receive dilut
e swine waste slurries, and serve as reactors for treatment and reservoirs for s
torage. Biogas production rate from a swine waste lagoon was 0.05 m3/m3 per da
y and 0.13 m3/m2 per day. Production of biogas was found to be a function of VS
loading and lagoon temperature (Cullimore et al., 1985; Safley & Westerman, 198
9; Safley & Westerman, 1988). Lagoons may be inexpensive, but require large are
as and are often associated with odors.
Batch reactors consisting of large circular or rectangular tanks are fed waste a
long with an inoculum, and degradation is permitted to startup and proceed to co
mpletion. These reactors are often unstable and require careful attention to th
e inoculum-to-feed ratio; VS conversion is erratic.
(completely mixed)
The continuously-stirred tank reactor (CSTR) is the most common design used in w
astewater and farm applications treating feeds with >3% solids. This design is
usually heated, mixed constantly, and usually fed intermittently rather than con
tinuously. The major disadvantage is the loss of inoculum and undigested solids
at high loading rates.
(anaerobic contact)
This design employs a CSTR followed by a settling operation to concentrate washe
d out microorganisms and undigested solids for recycle back to the CSTR. This r
esults in increased solids retention time (SRT) and reduced digester volume and
is used for dilute wastewater applications.
The plug-flow reactor is non-mixed and the feed passes through a trench or cylin
der (Floyd & Hawkes, 1986; Gorecki, 1993). These systems are often covered with
a balloon plastic cover (Taiwan, 1993). The SRT may also be increased using sl
udge recycle (Yang and Nagano, 1985). Best performance was obtained at an HRT o
f 2 days and SRT of 3.25 days. In the baffled modification of this design, inte
rnal baffles facilitate mixing and result in extended retention of microorganism
s and solids (Boopathy & Sievers, 1991; Yang & Chou, 1985; Yang & Moengangongo,
1987). These designs result in more conversion and higher conversion rates than
CSTR or batch reactors.
(continuously expanding/sequential batch)(fed-batch)
Some batch reactors, such as the continuously expanding (Hill et al., 1985) or a
naerobic sequential batch (Dague et al., 1992; Zhang et al., 1997), are intermit
tently fed, allowing the solids to settle, and supernatant is withdrawn between
feeding intervals. Solids are also removed on an intermittent basis. These rea
ctors may or may not be heated (Masse et al., 1993). They promote longer solids
than liquid retention times and substantially improve process kinetics over bat
ch and CSTR designs.
Several designs use various inert media for attachment of bacteria, forming biof
ilms, and thus preventing their washout at high hydraulic loadings (Wilkie & Col
leran, 1989). These designs are applicable for feedstocks with low suspended so
lids (<1-2%). Such high-rate systems have permitted reduction of hydraulic rete
ntion times to a few days or hours. In the case of anaerobic filters, the packi
ng media may include stones, brick, plastic, tubes, etc. Flow direction may be
up or down. Other designs (fluidized or expanded bed) use fine particles such a
s sand or silica. The waste stream is often recycled to maintain an expanded or
fluidized state of the biofilm coated medium. One of the most popular designs,
the upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB), takes advantage of the formation of
granules consisting of dense consortia of microorganisms which are formed under
carefully controlled conditions. Specialized gas/floc separators are employed
to prevent washout of these granules.
Lo (1994) showed that performance of UASB digesters treating screened swine wast
e could be improved by incorporation of a rope matrix for attachment of microorg
anisms in the mid-section of the reactor. Chou (1997) immobilized inoculum in c
ellulose triacetate for use in a packed bed reactor. Very low hydraulic retenti
on times were achieved in this system without sacrifice in performance.
Other successful media for microbial attachment have included nylon cuboid and p
olyurethane foam (Bolte et al., 1986; Bossier et al., 1986), wood blocks (Nordst
edt & Thomas, 1985), nylon mesh (Hill & Bolte, 1986), polypropylene cascade mini
-rings(Wilkie & Colleran, 1986), limestone (Hasheider & Sievers, 1983), sand and
activated carbon (Ng & Chin, 1988). Wilkie and Colleran (1984) compared sever
al media including clay, coral, mussel shell, and plastic pall-ring support mate
rials, finding similar performance in upflow filters.
(high solids)
Swine wastes may be mixed with bedding or other wastes, such as the organic frac
tion of municipal solid wastes, to produce high-solids feedstocks exceeding 20%
total solids. Several reactor designs have been recently developed to accommoda
te high-solids feeds without dilution. One group includes mixed digesters opera
ted at solids concentrations as high as 35%. These include vertical reactors, w
ith feed mixing with inoculum only during feeding, or intermittent mixing of rea
ctor contents during operation as described by Chynoweth (1996). Some designs
have horizontal reactors mixed by slow rpm mixers. The sequential batch anaerob
ic composting design (Chynoweth et al., 1991) uses batch leachbed reactors which
are started up by interacting leachate between new and mature reactor solids be
ds to inoculate the new batch and convey fatty acids to a mature reactor during
startup. Others interact leachbeds with methane-phase digesters during startup
and operation. Advantages of high-solids systems include reduced odors, easier n
utrient management, and reduced reactor size.
Several designs involve one or more stages (usually two) where depolymerization
and fermentation to organic acids occur in the first stage and degradation of ac
ids and methanogenesis is accomplished in the second stage, in conventional or h
igh-rate attached-film digesters. Actually in most piggeries, this first acid-f
orming stage occurs fortuitously during waste storage prior to treatment in anae
robic digesters. There are three major advantages to multi-phase designs (Chyno
weth & Pullammanappallil, 1996). The first involves improved stability. In a s
ingle, combined-phase digester, overloading and inhibition result in accumulatio
n of volatile organic acids for which resident populations are not present in su
fficient numbers to metabolize. Enrichment for these organisms can take several
weeks. In a two-phase system, formation of acids is encouraged in the first, o
r acid phase; therefore, the second methane phase is constantly receiving acids
to encourage high populations of acid-utilizing organisms. In other words, the
acid-phase is an intentionally imbalanced digester which is resistant to furthe
r imbalances resulting from overloading or inhibitors. The second advantage is
that the slow-growing populations of microorganisms (acid utilizers and methanog
ens) can be concentrated in biofilms, thus permitting short retention times for
the second-phase reactor. This reduces the overall reactor volume requirement,
including both stages. The third advantage is that most of the biogas is produc
ed in the methane-phase digester and the methane content of this gas is higher b
ecause of the prior release of much of the carbon dioxide in the
acid phase. This advantage facilitates biogas utilization by localizing its pro
duction and increasing its methane content.
Yang (1995) proposed a three-stage digester design for undiluted pig wastes (TS
8-10%). With an organic loading rate of 2.95 g VS/L per day, a methane yield of
0.42 L/g VS and VS reduction of 69.9% was achieved. Tseng (1992) observed impr
oved digestion of swine wastes employing the first stage reactor to perform soli
ds sedimentation and acidification, and a second tank to perform methanogenesis.
Operating Parameters
(loading rate)
The most meaningful parameter for describing the feed rate is loading rate which
is the feed concentration divided by the HRT (Chynoweth & Pullammanappallil, 19
96). Loading rate is expressed as weight of organic matter (VS or COD) per cult
ure or bed volume per day (e.g., kg VS/m3/day). This parameter (corrected for h
ead space) describes the reactor volume needed for a particular feed rate. Othe
r parameters, such as solids concentration and retention time (hydraulic or soli
ds), are misleading and do not provide a valid basis for comparison of digester
Aside from influencing digester size, solids concentration has a significant eff
ect on digester design and performance, and on materials handling. Feeds with l
ow concentrations of suspended solids (<1-2%) can be digested in high-rate attac
hed-film reactors described above. The conventional method is to use lagoons wi
th low loading rates or conventional digesters following solids separation. Fee
dstocks with medium solids concentrations (3-10%) require high hydraulic retenti
on times (>15 days for mesophilic temperature) or some mechanism for retaining s
uspended solids, such as solids recycle or concentration of solids within the re
actor, as in the sequential batch, upflow sludge blanket, or baffle-flow designs
. In the case of feed blends (discussed below), feed solids may exceed 10%, all
owing for the use of high-solids designs with reactor solids concentrations up t
o 35%. Advantages of these designs include higher loading rates, lower heating
energy requirements, and less water as a waste product (Wujick & Jewell, 1980).
It has also been shown that cellulolytic enzyme activity per unit reactor volum
e is higher in high-solids systems (Rivard et al., 1994). High solids systems h
ave a unique set of advantages and limitations with respect to materials handlin
g related to feed addition, mixing, and effluent removal.
Effective digester startup is dependent upon the quality and quantity of inoculu
m (Chynoweth & Pullammanappallil, 1996). In conventional CSTR digesters, the in
oculum-to-feed ratio (VS basis) is typically greater than 10. In designs where
washout of critical organisms is a concern, suspended solids in the effluent may
be settled and recycled. With batch and plug-flow designs, inoculum is obtaine
d from previous runs or by effluent recycle. Baffled systems trap inoculum thro
ughout the reactor and inoculate the feed as it passes through. Attached-film r
eactors often take months to fully start up but have the advantage of inoculum r
etention during the course of operation. Under-inoculation of a digester result
s in imbalanced performance due to the more rapid growth of acid formers than me
thane formers leading to accumulation of organic acids and consequent pH reducti
Biological methanogenesis has been reported at temperatures ranging from 2oC (in
marine sediments) to over 100oC (in geothermal areas)(Zinder, 1993). Most appl
ications of this fermentation have been performed under either ambient (15 to 25
oC), mesophilic (30 to 40oC), or thermophilic (50 to 60oC) temperatures. In gen
eral, the overall process kinetics double for every 10oC increase in operating t
emperature up to some critical temperature (about 60oC) above which a rapid drop
off in microbial activityoccurs (Harmon et al., 1993). The populations operatin
g in the thermophilic range are genetically unique (Zinder, 1993), do not surviv
e at lower temperatures, and are more sensitive to temperature fluctuations outs
ide of their optimum range. Digesters with lower temperatures are more stable a
nd require less process energy, but require larger volumes. Thermophilic digest
ers have lower volume requirements but have higher energy requirements and are l
ess stable. Ammonia is also more toxic in these digesters because the more toxi
c free ammonia is favored (Hansen et al., 1998).
Typically, most digesters are operated at mesophilic or ambient temperatures. S
everal researchers have investigated psychrophilic anaerobic digestion of swine
wastes (Safley & Westerman, 1990; Stevens & Schulte, 1979; van Velsen et al., 19
79; Zeeman et al., 1988). Digestion proceeds at temperatures as low as 10oC, re
quires longer retention times, and requires a low-temperature inoculum for effec
tive startup. Mesophilic operation seems to be the most preferred because of th
e possibility for control of temperature fluctuations (not possible for ambient
temperature operation) and the higher energy costs for thermophilic digestion.
Thermophilic operation is practiced in circumstances when the reduced reactor si
zes and the effective pathogen kill justify higher energy requirements and extra
effort to ensure stable performance.
Nitrogen and phosphorus are the major nutrients required for anaerobic digestion
. These elements are building blocks for cell synthesis and are directly relate
d to microbial growth requirements in anaerobic digesters. An average empirical
formula for an anaerobic bacterium is C5H7O2NP0.06 (Speece, 1997). Thus, the n
itrogen and phosphorus requirements for cell growth are 12% and 2%, respectively
, of the volatile solids converted to cell biomass (about 10% of the total volat
ile solids converted); this would be equivalent to 1.2% and 0.024% of the biodeg
radable volatile solids, respectively, for nitrogen and phosphorus.
Previous studies have identified critical feedstock C/N ratios of 15 for seaweed
(Chynoweth et al., 1987) and 15-19 for swine waste (Sievers & Brune, 1978), abo
ve which nitrogen was limiting. In fact, nutrient limitations are better relate
d to concentrations; e.g., a value of 700 mg/L was recently reported for the opt
imum NH4-N concentration in high-solids anaerobic digestion of the organic frac
tion of municipal solid waste (Kayhanian, 1994). Nutrients may also be concentr
ated by certain design and operating practices. For example, designs that conce
ntrate solids (Chynoweth, 1987) or reuse supernatant or leachate from process ef
fluent (Chen & Chynoweth, 1990; Chynoweth et al., 1991), concentrate nutrients e
xtracted from the feedstock. Ammonia is also an important contributor to the bu
ffering capacity in digesters but may also be toxic to processing in high solids
digesters. Ammonia toxicity was exhibited from feeds that had normal C/N ratio
s because ammonia became concentrated in the supernatant as digestion proceeded
(Jewell et al., 1993).
Other nutrients needed in intermediate concentrations, include sodium, potassium
, calcium, magnesium, chlorine, and sulfur. Requirements for several micronutri
ents have also been identified, including iron, copper, manganese, zinc, molybde
num, cobalt, nickel, selenium, and vanadium (Speece, 1997; Wilkie et al., 1986).
Available forms of these nutrients may be limiting because of their ease of pr
ecipitation and removal by reactions with phosphate and sulfide. Limitations of
these micronutrients have been demonstrated in reactors where the analytical pr
ocedures failed to distinguish between available and sequestered forms (Jewell e
t al., 1993).
Mixing is traditionally thought to be required for optimized digestion to enhanc
e interaction between feed and cells (inoculation) and remove inhibitory metabol
ic products from the cells. Mixing is also practiced to break up floating scum
and foam layers which are typical with some feedstocks, such as domestic sludge.
Therefore, conventional digesters include mixing, which is accomplished by mec
hanical stirring, liquid recycle, or gas recycle. Mixed digesters have been ref
erred to as “microbial torture chambers” based on research observations (J.G. Ferry,
personal communication) that metabolism of certain compounds (e.g., benzoate) i
s inhibited by mixing and efficient consortia function well in UASB digesters em
ploying granules or other biofilms (Switzenbaum, 1991). One explanation for this
inhibition is that microbial consortia existing in clumps are disrupted from th
at optimum arrangement by mixing. Chynoweth (1987) also demonstrated that a non
mixed solids-concentrating reactor design exhibited more rapid kinetics, lower n
utrient requirements, and greater stability than a CSTR design. This improved p
erformance was attributed to reduction in washout of solids and critical organis
ms. The practice of mixing in swine waste digesters varies depending on the des
ign and was previously addressed under the discussion of reactor options. Howev
er, the energy requirement related to mixing can require as much as 14 percent o
f the methane energy product in conventional low solids designs (see below under
energy requirements).
Biomethanogenesis is sensitive to several groups of inhibitors, including altern
ate electron acceptors (oxygen, nitrate, and sulfate), sulfides, heavy metals, h
alogenated hydrocarbons, volatile organic acids, ammonia, and cations (Speece, 1
996). The toxic effect of an inhibitory compound depends upon its concentration
and the ability of the bacteria to acclimate to its effects. The inhibitory con
centration depends upon different variables, including pH, HRT, temperature, and
the ratio of the toxic substance concentration to the bacterial mass concentrat
ion. Antagonistic and synergistic effects are also common. Methanogenic popula
tions are usually influenced by dramatic changes in their environment, but can b
e acclimated to otherwise toxic concentrations of many compounds.
Inhibition in anaerobic digesters is reflected by accumulation of volatile acids
(related to overloading or toxic feed components), high ammonia levels (related
to nitrogenous feeds), or toxic feed components. Normal and inhibited turnover
rates of volatile acids are discussed by Winter (1984). When the concentration
of total volatile organic acids is in the range of 2,000 mg/L or higher, the on
set of imbalance is indicated. Digesters, e.g., acid-phase systems, can acclima
te to concentrations as high as 10,000 mg/L. This tolerance is related to alkal
inity levels which are influenced by ammonia and bicarbonate.
Swine wastes have a high nitrogen content, resulting in high ammonia concentrati
ons during anaerobic digestion. Concentrations in the range of 3,000 mg/L or hi
gher have traditionally been thought to be inhibitory to anaerobic digestion (Br
aun et al., 1981), especially in combination with high pH that favors the volati
le NH3 form. Some researchers have found that acclimated digester cultures can
function normally at much higher concentrations, even as high as 6,000 mg/L (Han
sen et al., 1998; van Velsen, 1977). Cintoli (1995) evaluated use of zeolite to
reduce ammonia in piggery wastes to sub-inhibitory levels (1500 to 300 mg/L) pr
ior to treatment in a UASB digester.
Swine and other animals are fed antibiotics and other drugs to prevent infectiou
s diseases and promote growth. In general, results have shown that some antibio
tics (e.g., monensin and chlorotetracycline) inhibit digestion (Varel & Hashimot
o, 1981; Varel & Hashimoto, 1982) but acclimation is possible, and others (e.g.
arsanilic acid, roxarsone, and avilamycin) either stimulated digestion or had no
observable effect (Brumm & and Sutton, 1979; Brumm et al., 1980; Brumm et al.,
1979; Brumm et al., 1977; Sutton et al., 1989). Camprubi (1988) evaluated diffe
rent concentrations of antibiotics added to swine waste, including furazolidone,
chloramphenicol, chlorotetracycline tylosin, erythromycin, carbadox, and copper
sulfate. Chloramphenicol was the most potent inhibitor of anaerobic digestion.
Performance Parameters
(Gas and Methane Yields, Rates, and Reduction in Organic Matter)
Total biogas and methane production, when related to organic matter, are directl
y influenced by the extent and rate of conversion. Biogas yields are related to
organic matter fed which is expressed as volatile solids (VS) or chemical oxyge
n demand (COD). These data are typically reported as gas volume (m3) per weight
(kg) VS or COD added. Methane yield is preferred over gas yield because pH cha
nges in the reactor can cause changes in release or uptake of carbon dioxide tha
t are unrelated to degradation. Use of VS permits calculation of a materials ba
lance between the feed, effluent solids, and gas. Use of COD allows for calcula
tion of an oxidation-reduction balance between the feeds and products. In the c
ontext of materials balances, the reduction in organic matter may be calculated
as reduction in VS or COD. A typical methane yield for the organic fraction of
swine waste is 0.3 m3/kg VS (Table 9) which corresponds to a volatile solids red
uction of 50%.
Methane production rate is a measure of process kinetics and is determined as vo
lume of methane per volume of reactor per day (m3/m3/day). This parameter is th
e product of loading rate (kg/m3/day) and methane yield (m3/kg VS added). Value
s for piggery waste digestion have been reported in the range of 0.04 to 3.0 m3/
Methane content of the biogas is also a good indicator of stability. Under norm
al circumstances, this value is a function of the H/C ratio of the biodegradable
fraction and is normally in the range of 50-60% (Owens & Chynoweth, 1993). Sin
ce lowered methanogenic activity is the key factor leading to imbalance, a reduc
tion of methane gas content is a key performance parameter and has been employed
as an on-line control parameter (Chynoweth et al., 1994). The biochemical meth
ane potential (BMP) assay (Chynoweth et al., 1993; Owen et al., 1979; Owens & Ch
ynoweth, 1993) is useful for estimating the ultimate methane yield and relative
conversion rates of feed samples, specific feed components, and remaining biodeg
radable matter in process residues. This assay may also be used to determine to
xicity of feed components. In general, the test is conducted with miniature dig
esters (200 mL) which are optimized for conversion in terms of inoculum, feed co
ncentration, nutrients, and buffer. These miniature batch digesters are incubat
ed until no further gas production is observed. Measurements include gas produc
tion and composition of influent and effluent organic matter.
(Organic Acids, pH, and Alkalinity)
Organic acids, pH, and alkalinity are related parameters that influence digester
performance (McCarty, 1964; WPCF, 1987). Under conditions of overloading and t
he presence of inhibitors, methanogenic activity cannot remove hydrogen and orga
nic acids as fast as they are produced. The result is accumulation of acids, de
pletion of buffer, and depression of pH. If uncorrected via pH control and redu
ction in feeding, pH will drop to levels which stop the fermentation. Independe
nt of pH, extremely high volatile acid levels (>10,000 mg/L) also inhibit perfor
mance. The major alkalis contributing to alkalinity are ammonia and bicarbonate
. A normal healthy volatile acid-to-alkalinity ratio is 0.1. Increases to rati
os of 0.5 indicate the onset of failure and a ratio of 1.0 or greater is associa
ted with total failure. The most common chemicals for pH control are lime and s
odium bicarbonate. Lime produces calcium bicarbonate up to the point of solubil
ity of 1,000 mg/L. Sodium bicarbonate adds directly to the bicarbonate alkalini
ty without reaction with carbon dioxide. However, precautions must be taken not
to add this chemical to a level of sodium toxicity (>3500 mg/L). The alkalinit
y needed to neutralize volatile acids (VFA) is calculated by multiplying 0.833 t
imes VFA concentration (mg/L as acetic acid) (WPCF, 1987).
Certain volatile fatty acids are particularly associated with the onset of diges
ter failure, including propionic and higher numbered acids (Gourdon & Vermande,
1987; Hill, 1988; Wilkie and Smith, 1989). Accumulation of these acids results
from a backup of hydrogen (or electron) flow and their formation as an alternat
ive to methanogenesis for hydrogen utilization. Useful parameters based on this
principle are the ratio of these acids to acetic acid (Hill et al., 1987) and t
he concentrations of iso-volatile acids (Hill & Holmbert, 1988).

Numerous models have been developed to provide a theoretical understanding of mi
crobial populations and their interactions with the physical and chemical enviro
nment. Models use mathematical expressions to describe the interactions between
various microbial populations involved in the process, including substrate util
ization rates, microbial growth rates, product formation rates, and physico-chem
ical equilibrium relationships. More simplified anaerobic digestion models can
be used for optimizing process design and operation and for process control. Th
ese usually incorporate four major steps, including depolymerization and solubil
ization, acidogenesis, methanogenesis, and inhibition.
The following equations based on the Contois Model have been used to describe th
e kinetics of anaerobic digestion of swine waste at steady state (Chen, 1983; Ha
shimoto, 1984):

Where: = methane yield, m3/kg VS
Bo = ultimate methane yield at infinite retention time, m3/kg VS
K = kinetic parameter (inversely related to digester performance
values <0.6 indicate stability)
m = maximum specific growth rate, d-1
v = volumetric methane production rate, m3 CH4/ m3 digester
volume per day
L = volumetric loading rate, kg VS/m3 digester volume per day

Reported values for ultimate anaerobic biodegradability (Bo) of swine manure in

the range of 0.32 - 0.48 m3 CH4/kg VS were summarized from the literature by Che
n (1983). Hashimoto (1984) evaluated the effect of temperature and influent sub
strate concentration on a kinetic constant (K) which is an indicator of digester
stability. Temperature had no effect on (K) for influent substrate concentrati
ons between 33.4 and 61.8 g/L. The constant (K) increased exponentially with in
fluent substrate concentration. Chen (1983) further summarized (K) values from
the literature which indicated that inhibition of digestion in CSTR digesters ca
n be expected at feed volatile VS concentrations exceeding 6%.
Hill (1996) presented a model showing that the ratio of TKN-N in influent-to-eff
luent is a good indicator of process steady state in livestock anaerobic digesti
on. Andreadakis (1992) summarized operation, performance, and kinetic parameter
s from the literature. Other models applicable to wastes (including swine waste
s) have design and operating parameters (Hill, 1983), inhibition (Hill et al., 1
983), and economics optimization of design and operation (Hill, 1984; Hill, 1985
). Most of these models are limited to CSTR digesters and would have to be modi
fied to accommodate other designs such as batch, sequential batch, plug flow, an
d attached-film digesters.
Pathogen Reduction
Destruction of human, animal, and plant pathogens during treatment of organic wa
stes (including swine wastes) is a major concern for any subsequent use of the e
ffluent, such as for land application, recycle, or discharge. Diseases associat
ed with animal manure include bacterial, ricksettial, viral, fungal, and parasit
ic infections. Most studies have shown that anaerobic digestion results in redu
ction in numbers of pathogens. This has specifically been shown for swine waste
pathogens and indicator organisms in mesophilic digestion (Duarte et al., 1992)
. Bendixen (1994) has shown that most pathogens were killed under thermophilic
conditions (55oC) and that mesophilic temperatures (35oC) did not result in effe
ctive reduction. Engeli (1993) has shown that plant pathogens not killed by aer
obic treatment were significantly reduced by thermophilic anaerobic digestion.
Use of Digester Effluent for Nutrients
Digester effluent has been traditionally used as a soil conditioner or good sour
ce of inorganic nutrients (Zhang and Felmann, 1997; Day and Funk, 1998). Prior
to such use, effluents should be “cured” or aged to free them of reduced products su
ch as organic acids and reduced inorganic compounds such as ammonia and hydrogen
sulfide. These reduced compounds may be toxic to some plant forms. In locatio
ns where high concentrations of animals are raised, the capacity of the wastes i
n terms of inorganic nutrients may exceed the fertilizer needs and local disposa
l is not possible on a sustained basis without contamination of surface and grou
nd waters.
Anaerobic Treatment Of Nutrients
A discussion of anaerobic treatment of swine wastes would not be complete withou
t mentioning its role in biological nutrient removal. Per 1000 head in a finish
ing piggery, 18.6 tons per year (tpy) of nitrogen are ingested and 11.5 tpy excr
eted; the intake for phosphorus is 4.7 tpy, 4.5 tpy of which is excreted (Kepha
rt, 1996). Anaerobic processes may play an important role in removal of nitroge
n and phosphorus (Ekama & Wentzel, 1997). For nitrogen removal, ammonia nitroge
n resulting from metabolism of nitrogenous organic compounds must be oxidized ae
robically after which nitrogen may be removed anaerobically by denitrification.
This is accomplished by recycle of aerobic effluent back through an anaerobic d
enitrification process. Biological removal of phosphorus is sometimes accomplis
hed by the use of anaerobic prefermenters which produce volatile acids which the
n enhance uptake of phosphorus by bacteria in subsequent aerobic operations. Th
is may be accomplished in a sequencing batch reactor that is alternated between
aerobic and anaerobic conditions (Bortone et al., 1992). Algae, aquatic plants,
and wetlands may also be used for nutrient removal from digester effluents (Lin
coln & Earle, 1990; Yang & H., 1994; Zhang & Felmann, 1997).
Gaseous Emissions
Gaseous emissions from piggery wastes are of concern because of their potential
health hazards to the animals and farm workers, their contribution to greenhouse
s gases related to global warming, and as the cause of odors which are objection
able to piggery workers and nearby residents. Over 75 compounds (including ammo
nia, hydrogen sulfide, volatile organic acids, amines, mercaptans, and heterocyc
lic nitrogen compounds) have been identified in animal waste emissions which con
tribute to odors and are largely a result of partial anaerobic decomposition of
these wastes (Barth & Melvin, 1984). Under totally aerobic conditions, these co
mpounds would not form as they would be converted to carbon dioxide, water, and
oxides of sulfur and nitrogen, all of which are odorless. Under conditions of h
igh concentrations of organic matter (such as animal wastes), oxygen is depleted
and an imbalanced anaerobic decomposition occurs giving rise to these products.
Many uncontrolled environments where manure is accumulated (manure piles, coll
ection pits or tanks, etc.) have imbalanced anaerobic decomposition (Wilkie et a
l. 1995b). In a balanced methanogenic decomposition, the gases are limited prim
arily to methane, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and ammonia. Levels of hydr
ogen sulfide and ammonia are high for swine wastes, compared to other animal was
tes, because of the high protein content.

As discussed above, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide cause discomfort and represent
health risks to confined animals and workers.
Methane is produced during the anaerobic decay of organic matter in manure. Wor
ldwide emissions from this source range from 10 to 18 teragrams (Tg) per year, o
r 2 to 5% of global anthropogenic emissions(Safley et al., 1992; USEPA, 1993).
Swine account for 40% of the emissions from animal wastes. No information could
be found on the contribution of swine-waste ammonia emissions to atmospheric ni
trous oxides.
The influence of anaerobic digestion on odors from swine and other animal wastes
can be significant (Powers et al., 1997; Wilkie, 1998). Anaerobic treatment i
s conducted in closed vessels and under conditions that lead to a balanced decom
position. Thus, volatile acids and other reduced compounds found under imbalanc
ed conditions do not accumulate. Organic matter that would lead to production o
f odors is further decomposed leaving a stable residue that can be applied to fi
elds without generating an odor nuisance. Although the biogas may be odorous du
e to hydrogen sulfide, the gas is usually enclosed until it is burned or treated
for hydrogen sulfide removal prior to use. The problem with most aerobic proce
sses treating animal wastes (e.g. composting and oxidation ditches), is that oxy
gen becomes limiting and the processes become partially anaerobic leading to vol
atile gases that are transported to the atmosphere by the aeration process. Oth
er methods to control odors include, solids separation, aeration of anaerobic la
goon surfaces, and ventilation of housing gases through biofilters.
Commercial Systems and Economics
Sweeten (1981) reviewed the technical and economic considerations for systems fo
r production of methane from swine manure. Using 1980 prices, their constructio
n costs ranged from $22-$36 per 68 kg hog. This is equivalent to $214-$357 per
m3 digester volume. They concluded that treatment of concentrated wastes (8-10%
TS) would be more economical than treatment of diluted flush wastes (2-3% TS).
Chandler (1983) reported that a $89,000 75kw covered lagoon effectively treate
d wastes from a 1,000 sow (farrow to finish) piggery with an internal return of
34% and a payback period of 3 years.
Yang (1995) used lab-scale data to determine the cost of three-stage anaerobic d
igestion of undiluted pig waste. The cost in Hawaii for treatment with this sys
tem was $3.73 per head per year for a 300-herd farm with a profit of $3.01 per h
ead for a 1,000-herd farm.
Oleszkiewicz (1983) compared nine full-scale waste treatment schemes for treatme
nt of large-herd piggeries (>10,000 animals) with water-flushed slurry wastes in
a developed country. It was found that some of the systems practiced, includin
g extended aeration, chemical coagulation, series of lagoons, and systems featur
ing land disposal, are not cost effective. Systems with high-rate anaerobic and
aerobic unit operations could treat the wastes more effectively at one-third to
one/half the cost of more traditional systems. Anaerobic digestion in cost-eff
ective schemes was used for secondary treatment of wastewater and settled sludge
s and for denitrification. Aerobic treatment was used to polish digester efflue
nt and for biological nutrient removal. Durand (1988) presented the results of
an economic system model for anaerobic treatment of confined swine wastes. The
best configuration, of 12 evaluated, included flushing manure collection, thermo
philic anaerobic digestion with effluent heat recovery, and direct combustion of
gas. The economics were most sensitive to digester size, energy price, and eff
iciency of energy conversion.
Table 10 summarizes data from several commercial swine waste digester systems in
the U.S., including digester type and volume, gas production, electricity produ
ction (if applicable), and capital costs. A software package is available from
a U.S. government program (AgSTAR) that facilitates determination of design and
economics of different animal waste treatment systems based on anaerobic process

Table 10. Summary of Economics of Anaerobic Digestion Treatment Systems for Swi
ne Wastes
Herd Size Feed Type Digester Type Dig.
Vol., m3 Gas Prodn. Elect. Prodn., annual Cost Country Ref.
1,150 flush non-mixed slurry tank 207 $20,000 (materia
ls); US (Lusk, 1998)
16,500 flush covered lagoon 29,400 1,960 m3/d 700,000kwh $220,000
US (Lusk, 1998)
13,000 flush plus dairy proc. wastes plug-flow 1,302 1,680 1.0 mill
ion kwh $525,000 US (Lusk, 1998)
11,500 flush covered lagoon 26,180 980 (1960 in future) 600,000 possible
$191,500 US (Lusk, 1998)
3,000 flush covered lagoon 10,892 336 175 estimated $85,000 US
(Lusk, 1998)
? flush covered lagoon 30,000 40,000 625,000 $232,500 US
(Lusk, 1998)
1,000 scraped (TS 8-10%) three-stage batch storage plus 2 CSTRs 100
131 $67,558 Hawaii (Yang & Kuroshima 1995)
3,200 scraped CSTR 88 197 supplies all farm energy requiremts.
$62,375 US (Fischer et al., 1979)

The economics of swine waste treatment systems are highly site specific and depe
ndent upon several factors, including land and labor costs, effluent discharge r
egulations, and energy prices.
With over eight million hogs raised in Taiwan, the Taiwan Livestock Research Ins
titute(Taiwan, 1993) developed a standardized waste treatment system that is us
ed in over 90% of the piggeries. This system involves a complex combination of
solids/liquid separation, composting, activated sludge, and anaerobic digestion
operations. Redmud plastic-covered plug-flow digesters are employed to treat th
e overflow dilute fraction. The effluent is polished by activated sludge treatm
ent. Solids are treated by composting. Chou (1995) evaluated automated control
of this system. In Denmark, animal wastes are blended with the organic fractio
n of solid and industrial wastes for anaerobic digestion. The biogas is utilize
d primarily for heating and generation of electricity (Tafdrup, 1995).

Effluent Processing
Fong and Yuen (1986) reported on a lab-scale process for concentrating piggery d
igester effluent as a potential animal feed. The effluent contained 14% protein
. Yang (1994) evaluated a combined fixed-film and aquatic plant system for trea
tment of diluted piggery waste digester effluent. The system effected 90% COD r
eduction, 95% reduction of TKN-N, and 99% suspended solids reduction at an estim
ated cost $2.95 per pig per year for a farm with 1000 head. Camarero (1996) inv
estigated final treatments for effluents from piggery digesters. Coarser fracti
ons separated by flocculation were further digested as high-solids feeds; finer
fractions were treated by aerobic digestion and chemical oxidation. De la Noue
(1989), Lincoln et al. (1993) and Lincoln et al. (1996) investigated nutrient re
moval using various microalgae. Chlorella achieved the highest removal rates bu
t Phormidium and Spirulina would be easier to harvest. Effective removal of nut
rients by Phormidium was confirmed in laboratory experiments (Canizares-Villanue
va et al., 1994; Lincoln & Earle, 1990)
Biogas Utilization
Figure 2 shows various options for utilization of biogas on farms (Ross & Drake,
1996)). The most efficient use of biogas is direct combustion for heat. Commo
nly, biogas is used directly with minimal cleanup (hydrogen sulfide and moisture
removal) for electrical generation. The heat from generator engines may be cap
tured with heat exchangers for digester heating or other uses. Biogas as produc
ed is typically 60% methane and 40% carbon dioxide, but the methane content can
be as high as 80% in attached-film digesters. The heating value is about 14.8-1
7.8 kJ/m3. The hydrogen sulfide is typically 1%. Iron sponges or iron-impregna
ted wood chips are often used for hydrogen sulfide removal. Upgrading biogas by
removal of carbon dioxide is possible, and necessary for uses requiring compres
sion, but is not economic for the small quantities generated by piggeries. Ross
(1996) presents a detailed discussion of properties, conversion, handling and s
torage, instrumentation and controls, health, safety, and environmental consider
ations, and economics related to biogas use.
Net Energy Considerations
Process energy requirements should influence design and operating conditions sel
ected for treatment of swine wastes and other feedstocks in digesters. For CST
R digesters, the components in order of their relative importance are feed heati
ng, reactor heat losses, and mixing (Chen, 1983; Chen & Hashimoto, 1981; Srivast
ava, 1987). The total requirements can range from about 10% to over 100% of the
methane product energy depending upon the design, feed solids concentration, lo
ading rate, mixing regime, operating temperature, and ambient temperature. Sinc
e feed heating is the major requirement, the requirements are high for colder cl
imates and higher digester operating temperatures. There is a strong incentive
for ambient temperature operation for high-rate digesters receiving dilute waste
streams. This is
related to the high energy requirements to heat the dilute feed and the rapid ki
netics of these designs at low temperatures. On the other hand, (Legrand, 1993)
has calculated that high-solids digesters may be self-heating in tropical and s
ub-tropical climates.
Several demographic trends will influence swine waste management into the twenty
-first century:
• increase in human population
• increase in swine meat consumption in developing countries
• decrease in swine meat consumption in developed countries
• centralization of swine production with herds in the tens of thousands

• stricter local and global environmental regulations with respect to gaseous, liq
uid, and solids emissions
• public health regulations with respect to animal and worker comfort and health

Figure 2. Biogas Utilization Options

In developed nations like the United States and the European Union, piggeries wi
ll be treated like other industries, with emphasis on clean sustainable animal r
aising operations. Wastes will be rapidly removed from their site of production
to minimize effects on animals and workers and treated with much the same objec
tives as for human and industrial wastes, i.e., removal of solids, organic matte
r, nutrients, and pathogens. The trend continues to be toward flushed systems w
hich will be followed by combinations of operations for separation, anaerobic an
d aerobic organic matter reduction, nutrient removal, and disinfection. Anaerob
ic treatment should play an important role in future swine waste management for
treatment of organics with its minimum biological sludge production, production
of a useful methane fuel, emerging developments for biological removal of nitrog
en and phosphorus, and its capacity to reduce pathogens. There are strong argum
ents in favor of minimizing water use in management of these wastes, and in fact
to further increase solids by use of straw and other high-solids wastes for bed
ding. High-solids management not only reduces required reactor sizes, but also
odors and water requirements.
In developing countries, the trends will be the same, but piggeries will be smal
ler on the average and emphasis on environmental pollution control will be slowe
r to develop. High level of treatment of piggery wastes will probably coincide
with the emergence of effective treatment of human wastes.
In general, it makes the most sense to grow swine in the vicinity of their feed
production. This would facilitate a sustainable cycle for nutrient management.
A modern approach to evaluation of systems involving anaerobic digestion of was
tes from swine, or any feedstock, is life cycle assessment (LCA). LCA (IEA, 199
7) involves the systematic identification of all materials, energy, and economic
inputs and outputs of a system from “cradle to grave”, i.e., from the extraction of
raw materials from the environment to their eventual assimilation back into the
environment. The flows are assessed in terms of their potential to contribute
to specific environmental impacts. For swine waste systems, this would involve
assessment of feed production and processing, waste collection and storage, wast
e transport, air emissions, water emissions, net energy consumption, compost, an
d wastes.
The authors acknowledge several colleagues who promptly responded by sending rec
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