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A Comparison of the Carbon Footprint of Aerobic and Anaerobic Digestion

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In the United States, anaerobic and aerobic digestion are two of the most commonly used practices for treatment of sludge to produce biosolids for land application. Both processes are specifically referenced in the 40CFR, Part 503 regulations as Processes to Significantly Reduce Pathogens (PSRPs or Class-B processes).

This paper compares these technologies at two medium-sized POTWs in Georgia. In particular, the anaerobic digestion cases describe two versions of an operating mesophilic digestion plant as Plant 1A (as currently configured and operated with use of methane for vessel heating and the rest of the digester gas being flared); and Plant 1B (with planned enhancements that are currently under construction to convert to a Class-A, temperature-phased anaerobic digestion process with the addition of engines for co-generation). The Plant 2 (aerobic digestion) case study describes an operating plant that currently land applies a liquid, Class-B biosolids.

The carbon footprint of the anaerobic digestion with cogeneration is approximately 200 metric tons per year (MTpy) of CO2 per mgd smaller than anaerobic digestion alone and 325 MTpy of CO2 per mgd less than the aerobic digestion.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2008

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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