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How Much of an Advantage Can Anaerobic Technologies Provide?

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Many publications have stated that use of anaerobic processes for liquid treatment at wastewater treatment plants can provide several significant advantages over aerobic treatment. These advantages include lower operating costs, reduced energy demands, increased biogas production with potential for power generation, lower sludge production, simpler operation, and a smaller footprint. However, few of these publications have attempted to quantify these advantages and compare them to conventional aerobic processes, particularly for the treatment of municipal strength wastewaters. This paper compares several anaerobic technologies to a traditional aerobic municipal wastewater plant designed to remove carbon, solids, and nutrients to quantify and compare sludge production, footprint, energy requirements, costs, and green house gas production. It is shown that anaerobic technologies do offer advantages of reduced footprint, reduced sludge production, and reduced energy requirements. However, in terms of cost, the traditional aerobic process is most attractive when having to meet nutrient limits.

Keywords: Anaerobic treatment; domestic wastewater treatment; energy

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2011-01-01

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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 These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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