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Comparison of Mechanical Pretreatment Methods for the Enhancement of Anaerobic Digestion of Pulp and Paper Waste Activated Sludge

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The conventional anaerobic digestion process, requiring long solids retention times (SRTs) to digest solids, is currently viewed as impractical for the pulp and paper industry because of high capital costs associated with the construction of new digesters. Recent developments in sludge solubilization technology could be promising in reducing digester size, which also allows for the potential use of decommissioned tanks, both of which can reduce the capital cost. Three pretreatment technologies for use with anaerobic digestion were tested on laboratory-scale to investigate their feasibility. The SRTs in all three digesters systematically decreased from 20 to 3 days. The reference digester was fed waste activated sludge (WAS) to serve as the control at the same SRTs. The other digesters were fed WAS that had been preconditioned using mechanical shearing, sonication, or high-pressure homogenization technology. Anaerobic digestion with high-pressure homogenization produced as much methane at 3-day mean SRT as that from the reference digester operated at 20-day SRT. Therefore, a new digester can theoretically be 85% smaller than a conventional digester. An added benefit of WAS to methane conversion is the recovery of nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus.

Keywords: anaerobic digestion; pretreatments; pulp and paper

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2012

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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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