Waste lipids to energy: how to optimize methane production from long-chain fatty acids (LCFA)

M.M. Alves, M.A. Pereira, D.Z. Sousa, A.J. Cavaleiro, M. Picavet, H. Smidt, A.J.M. Stams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

193 Citations (Scopus)


The position of high-rate anaerobic technology (HR-AnWT) in the wastewater treatment and bioenergy market can be enhanced if the range of suitable substrates is expanded. Analyzing existing technologies, applications and problems, it is clear that, until now, wastewaters with high lipids content are not effectively treated by HR-AnWT. Nevertheless, waste lipids are ideal potential substrates for biogas production, since theoretically more methane can be produced, when compared with proteins or carbohydrates. In this minireview, the classical problems of lipids methanization in anaerobic processes are discussed and new concepts to enhance lipids degradation are presented. Reactors operation, feeding strategies and prospects of technological developments for wastewater treatment are discussed. Long-chain fatty acids (LCFA) degradation is accomplished by syntrophic communities of anaerobic bacteria and methanogenic archaea. For optimal performance these syntrophic communities need to be clustered in compact aggregates, which is often difficult to achieve with wastewaters that contain fats and lipids. Driving the methane production from lipids/LCFA at industrial scale without risk of overloading and inhibition is still a challenge that has the potential for filling a gap in the existing processes and technologies for biological methane production associated to waste and wastewater treatment
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)538-550
JournalMicrobial Biotechnology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2009


Dive into the research topics of 'Waste lipids to energy: how to optimize methane production from long-chain fatty acids (LCFA)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this