Hydrolysis and acidification of grass silage in leaching bed reactors
Hydrolysis and acidification of grass silage (GS) was examined in leaching bed reactors (LBRs) under organic loading rates (OLRs) of 0.5, 0.8 and 1.0 kg volatile solids (VS)/m3/day. The LBRs were run in duplicate over five consecutive batch tests (Batch tests 1-5) to examine the effects of pH, leachate dilution and addition of inoculum on the process of hydrolysis and acidification. The highest GS hydrolysis yields of 52-58%, acidification yields of 57-60% and VS removals of 62-66% were obtained in Batch test 4. Increasing OLRs affected the hydrolysis yield negatively. In Batch test 4, the reduction of lignocellulosic materials was up to 74.4% of hemicellulose, 30.1% of cellulose and 9.3% of lignin within 32 days. Cellulase activity can be used as an indicator for the hydrolysis process. Methane production from the LBRs only accounted for 10.0-13.8% of the biological methane potential of GS.