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Economic Analysis of Mesophilic and Thermophilic Anaerobic Digestion

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The operating costs of thermophilic and mesophilic operation of an anaerobic sludge digester at a wastewater treatment plant are estimated from a system of mass balance equations modeling the operation of the plant's biosolids handling, including digestion, screening, dewatering, and wet-cake storage. The effect of recycling heat from the outgoing to the incoming sludge is also considered. The result from a cost comparison based on data from the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation's Hyperion Treatment Plant clearly indicates that a thermophilic operation can be economically preferable to a mesophilic operation. This advantage would be enhanced by successful implementation of methods to increase gas production in digesters, which are also discussed. The cost model in this paper incorporates only the most quantifiable and typical aspects of biosolids handling, and thus provides a stringent test of the advantage of adopting thermophilic operation. If a plant can achieve parameters beyond the breakeven point as computed by this model then the additional economic or environmental benefits as described are likely to make thermophilic operation even more favorable.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2001-01-01

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