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Performance and Stability of Two-Stage Anaerobic Digestion

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The stability, capacity, and solids destruction efficiency of single versus two-stage anaerobic digestion was studied in bench-scale reactors using combined waste activated and primary sludge. Laboratory staged mesophilic digesters showed an improved volatile solids and volatile suspended solids destruction efficiency over a single-stage system (at the same total solids retention time [SRT]) of approximately 3.2 and 5.8 percentage points, respectively. To quantify stability and capacity, a new digester monitoring method was introduced that measured the digester maximum acetate utilization capacity, V max,ac, and was used to investigate the potential for digester instability at different transient loadings. The ratio of the V max,ac value to the estimated acetate production rate for a given digester loading was termed the acetate capacity number (ACN). Values greater than 1.0 indicate excess acetate utilization capacity. The first stage of the laboratory two-stage mesophilic system (10-day SRT for each stage) had an ACN number of 1.3 compared with a value of 1.8 for the single-stage 20-day SRT digester. Thus, while a staged mesophilic system can improve solids destruction efficiency, it demonstrates a lower capacity for metabolizing highly variable loads.

Keywords: acetate capacity number; anaerobic digestion; digester capacity; mesophilic; staged digestion; thermophilic

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 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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