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Application of Mechanical Shear in an Internal-Recycle for the Enhancement of Mesophilic Anaerobic Digestion

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A combination of bench- and full-scale studies were conducted to determine the effectiveness of high-intensity mechanical shear in an internal recycle loop to enhance mesophilic anaerobic digestion and the implications of this process for routine operations of a digestion system. During short-term batch digestion (56 hours), a 46% increase in biogas production was observed. However, it was found that the degree of digestion enhancement was sludge-specific, with increases in volatile solids destruction ranging from 16.6 to 110%. A full-scale demonstration showed increased total and volatile solids destruction of 22 and 21% for the primary digester and 17.2 and 11% for the secondary digester, respectively. The data also suggest that increased protein degradation is one of the major mechanisms associated with the observed increases in volatile solids destruction. The full-scale demonstration also determined that shear enhanced digestion can be operated without process upset, based on volatile fatty acid profile and headspace biogas composition (methane and carbon dioxide). Dewatering properties, as measured by polymer demand, deteriorated in the primary digester, but there was improvement in the secondary digester. High-intensity shear does not appear to enhance pathogen reduction based on total and fecal coliform bacterial enumeration.

Keywords: anaerobic digestion; internal recycle; mechanical shear; wet sludge disintegration

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2007

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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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