Characterisation and agronomic evaluation of acidified food waste anaerobic digestate products

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Raw liquid anaerobic digestate was synthesised into nutrient-dense solid digestates via acidification and evaporation. Acidification retained ammonium in the digestate whilst also donating the anion to free ammonium to form an ammonium salt. Digestate was treated with the addition of sulphuric, nitric, and phosphoric acid resulting in the formation of ammonium sulphate, ammonium nitrate and ammonium phosphate, respectively then evaporated into a solid fertiliser product. FTIR, XRD and SEM-EDS collectively confirm that the addition of acids completely converted the free ammonium in the raw digestate into their respective ammonium salt counterparts. Compounds of potassium chloride, silicon dioxide, calcium carbonate, magnesium ammonium phosphate, sodium nitrate, and sodium chloride were identified in all solid digestate samples. Plant growth and grain yield was higher in urea ammonium nitrate, raw liquid digestate and acidified digestate products compared to control and unacidified solid digestate. Urea ammonium nitrate and ammonium nitrate solid digestate had the highest dry shoot, likely due to the high available nitrogen found in both fertilisers. Overall, acidification and evaporation of liquid digestate can efficiently transform it into a valuable solid fertiliser with a high nutrient density. This process not only has the potential to mitigate handling and storage constraints of low nutrient density digestate in anaerobic digestion facilities but also offers a sustainable alternative to conventional fertilisers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120565
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Early online date10 Mar 2024
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024


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