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High-Solids Anaerobic Digestion of Municipal Sludge Pretreated by Thermal Hydrolysis

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High-solids anaerobic digestion can consistently achieve 55 to 60% volatile solids destruction after thermal hydrolysis pretreatment, which reduces its viscosity and increases the fraction of soluble organic matter. For feed sludge with total solids concentrations between 6.8 and 8.2%, the process is stable at hydraulic retention times of 9 to 12 days, significantly increasing the treatment capacity of existing digesters or, in treatment plants without spare capacity, helping to postpone, reduce, or even avoid costly infrastructure investments. Process stability is related to the high concentration of soluble organic matter in the digesters. High-solids temperature-phased digestion appears to be superior to high-solids mesophilic digestion, with respect to process flexibility and stability, biosolids stabilization, and biogas generation, although ammonia inhibition may have occurred. Implementation of high-solids digestion could significantly reduce operation and maintenance costs of solids-handling operations.

Keywords: ammonia toxicity; high-solids anaerobic digestion; mesophilic anaerobic digestion; solids-handling facilities; temperature-phased anaerobic digestion; thermal hydrolysis pretreatment; viscosity

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2008

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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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