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The Digestibility of Waste Activated Sludges

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Laboratory digestion studies using waste activated sludges (WAS) were conducted to compare the digestion performance between anaerobic and aerobic processes. Nine samples of WAS from seven wastewater treatment plants were collected and batch-digested under both anaerobic and aerobic conditions for 30 days at 25 °C. The cation content of wastewater (both floc and solution phases) and solution biopolymer (protein and polysaccharide) was measured before and after digestion and compared with volatile solids destruction data. The study revealed that each digestion process was associated with a distinct biopolymer fraction, which accounted for differences in volatile solids reduction under anaerobic and aerobic conditions. The anaerobic digestion data showed strong correlations between soluble protein generation, ammonium production, percent volatile solids reduction, and floc iron (Fe). These data suggest that the amount of volatile solids destroyed by anaerobic digestion depends on the Fe content of floc. In aerobic digestion, polysaccharide accumulated in solution along with calcium and magnesium. For aerobic digestion, correlations between divalent cation release and the production of inorganic nitrogen were found. This implies that divalent cation-bound biopolymer, thought to be lectin-like protein, was the primary organic fraction degraded under aerobic conditions. The results of the study show that the cation content in wastewater is an important indicator of the material that will digest under anaerobic or aerobic conditions and that some of the volatile solids will digest only under either anaerobic or aerobic conditions. Water Environ. Res.,

Keywords: aerobic digestion; anaerobic digestion; biopolymer; iron; polysaccharide; protein; volatile solids reduction

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2006

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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