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Anaerobic Digestion of Raw and Thermally Hydrolyzed Wastewater Solids Under Various Operational Conditions

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In this study, high-solids anaerobic digestion of thermally pretreated wastewater solids (THD) was compared with conventional mesophilic anaerobic digestion (MAD). Operational conditions, such as pretreatment temperature (150 to 170°C), solids retention time (15 to 20 days), and digestion temperature (37 to 42°C), were varied for the seven THD systems operated. Volatile solids reduction (VSR) by THD ranged from 56 to 62%, compared with approximately 50% for MAD. Higher VSR contributed to 24 to 59% increased biogas production (m3/kg VSR·d) from THD relative to MAD. The high-solids conditions of the THD feed resulted in high total ammonia-nitrogen (proportional to solids loading) and total alkalinity concentrations in excess of 14 g/L as calcium carbonate (CaCO3). Increased pH in THD reactors caused 5 to 8 times more un-ionized ammonia to be present than in MAD, and this likely led to inhibition of aceticlastic methanogens, resulting in accumulation of residual volatile fatty acids between 2 and 6 g/L as acetic acid. The THD produced biosolids cake that possessed low organic sulfur-based biosolids odor and dewatered to between 33 and 39% total solids. Dual conditioning with cationic polymer and ferric chloride was shown to be an effective strategy for mitigating dissolved organic nitrogen and UV-quenching compounds in the return stream following centrifugal dewatering of THD biosolids.

Keywords: ammonia release; anaerobic digestion; biosolids dewatering; biosolids odor; methane energy recovery; sludge minimization; thermal hydrolysis

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 2011

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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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