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Technical Process Considerations for Providing Community Organics Recycling with Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plant Anaerobic Digesters

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The role of municipal wastewater treatment plants have evolved over the years, and with the recent nationwide or even global focus on generating more renewable energy, reducing green house gases, diverting wastes from landfills by recycling those wastes, and other environmental concerns, municipal wastewater treatment plants may be poised to serve in a new way. Organic wastes traditionally disposed of or recycled in energy intensive rendering plants can be instead anaerobically digested to produce renewable energy and reduce green house gases. These wastes, however, can lead to digester process failures if not properly managed. Fats, oils, and greases can inhibit methanogenesis if digester sludge concentrations exceed 6,000 mg/l oil and grease. Sugar wastes can reduce methane content in digester gas, because of increased carbon dioxide generation. Protein wastes can cause digester ammonia toxicity. Food wastes, especially post-consumer food wastes, contain contaminants that can damage wastewater treatment equipment and processes. Glycerin wastes from biodiesel plants can inhibit methanogenesis. Green wastes fed to anaerobic digesters can result in reduced methane content in digester gas. Paper wastes could be difficult to anaerobically digest. Nonetheless, with proper process modifications, all of these wastes have been successfully anaerobically digested.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2008-01-01

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