The objectives of this study were to compare the types and levels of volatile methyl siloxanes (VMS) present in biogas generated in the anaerobic digesters and landfills, evaluate the energetics of siloxane transformations under anaerobic conditions, compare the conditions in anaerobic digesters and municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills which result in differences in siloxane compositions. Biogas samples were collected at the South District Wastewater Treatment Plant and South Dade Landfill in Miami, Florida. In the digester gas, D4 and D5 comprised the bulk of total siloxanes (62% and 27%, respectively) whereas in the landfill gas, the bulk of siloxanes were trimethylsilanol (TMSOH) (58%) followed by D4 (17%). Presence of high levels of TMSOH in the landfill gas indicates that methane utilization may be a possible reaction mechanism for TMSOH formation. The free energy change for transformation of D5 and D4 to TMSOH either by hydrogen or methane utilization are thermodynamically favorable. Either hydrogen or methane should be present at relatively high concentrations for TMSOH formation which explains the high levels present in the landfill gas. The high bond energy and bond distance of the Si-O bond, in view of the atomic sizes of Si and O atoms, indicate that Si atoms can provide a barrier, making it difficult to break the Si-O bonds especially for molecules with specific geometric configurations such as D4 and D5 where oxygen atoms are positioned inside the frame formed by the large Si atoms which are surrounded by the methyl groups.
Keywords: Anaerobic decomposition; Biogas; Electron acceptor; Siloxanes; Volatile methyl siloxanes; Waste to energy.
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