A Model for Bioaugmented Anaerobic Granulation

Front Microbiol. 2020 Oct 7;11:566826. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2020.566826. eCollection 2020.


Anaerobic granular sludge comprises of highly organized microorganisms with a sophisticated metabolic network. Such aggregates can withstand storage, temperature fluctuations and changes in the substrate supplied for anaerobic digestion. However, substrate change leads to long adaptation of granular consortia, creating lags in the reactor operations. To speed up adaptation and increase digestion efficiency, bioaugmentation with a robust consortium can be performed. The computational study described here aims to elucidate the mechanisms of bioaugmenting anaerobic granules, utilizing the current body of knowledge on metabolic and biochemical interactions between bacteria in such aggregates. Using a cDynoMiCs simulation environment, an agent-based model was developed to describe bioaugmentation for adaptation of cellobiose-degrading granular consortium to a lipid-rich feed. Lipolytic bacteria were successfully incorporated in silico to the stable granular consortia after 40 days of simulation. The ratio of cellobiose and the lipid-derivative, oleate, in the feed played key role to ensure augmentation. At 0.5 g/L of both cellobiose and oleate in the feed, a homogeneous stable augmented consortium was formed and converted the given amount of substrate to 10.9 mg/L of methane as a final product of anaerobic digestion. The demonstrated model can be used as a planning tool for anaerobic digestion facilities considering transition of the inoculum to a new type of feed.

Keywords: agent-based model; anaerobic granulation; bioaugmentation; biogas; cDynoMiCs.