Strategies to boost anaerobic digestion performance of cow manure: Laboratory achievements and their full-scale application potential

Yu Li, Jing Zhao, Janneke Krooneman, Gert Jan Willem Euverink*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)
185 Downloads (Pure)


Cow manure represents a surplus manure waste in agricultural food sectors, which requires proper disposal. Anaerobic digestion, in this regard, has raised global interest owing to its apparent environmental benefits, including simultaneous waste diminishment and renewable energy generation. However, dedicated intensifications are necessary to promote the degradation of recalcitrant lignocellulosic components of cow manure. Hence, this manuscript presents a review of how to exploit cow manure in anaerobic digestion through different incentives extensively at lab-scale and full-scale. These strategies comprise 1) co-digestion; 2) pretreatment; 3) introduction of additives (trace metals, carbon-based materials, low-cost composites, nanomaterials, and microbial cultures); 4) innovative systems (bio-electrochemical fields and laser irradiation). Results imply that co-digestion and pretreatment approaches gain the predominance on promoting the digestion performance of cow manure. Particularly, for the co-digestion scenario, the selection of lignin-poor co-substrate is highlighted to produce maximum synergy and pronounced removal of lignocellulosic compounds of cow manure. Mechanical, thermal, and biological (composting) pretreatments generate mild improvement at laboratory-scale and are proved applicable in full-scale facilities. It is noteworthy that the introduction of additives (Fe-based nanomaterials, carbon-based materials, and composites) is acquiring more attention and shows promising full-scale application potential. Finally, bio-electrochemical fields stand out in laboratory trials and may serve as future reactor modules in agricultural anaerobic digestion installations treating cow manure.
Original languageEnglish
Article number142940
Number of pages25
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date14-Oct-2020
Publication statusPublished - 10-Feb-2021


  • Additives
  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Bio-electrochemical fields
  • Cow manure
  • Pretreatment

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