Feasibility and potential of separate anaerobic digestion of municipal sewage sludge fractions
Feasibility of the separate anaerobic stabilization of primary (PS) and secondary (SS) sludge fractions produced in municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) was studied at volatile loading rates (VLR) of 0.57–2.05 and 0.27–0.57 kg VS/(m3∙d) for PS and SS, respectively, corresponding to 16–30 and 14–28 d of hydraulic retention time (HRT). Laboratory-scale semi-continuous anaerobic reactors were operated at 35°C. The operational performance and quality of the final stabilized sludge were monitored. PS and SS showed opposite thickening abilities exhibiting a need for direct feeding of PS to the digesters. Biodegradability was obtained as 52(±1) and 40(±5)% volatile solid (VS) removal for PS and SS, respectively. Optimum VLR was determined according to the highest methane yield (specific methane production), VS reduction and dewaterability of the stabilised sludge. An inhibitory effect was observed at higher VLRs in PS digestion inducing a gradual reduction in the methane yield and daily production. High oil and grease content was subject to a substantial reduction in PS digestion showing a dependency on HRT. Conversely, a considerable degree of augmentation took place in the stabilised SS with no correlation to HRT at values lower than 30 d. Efficient reduction in the oil and grease content improved dewaterability in stabilised PS whereas high oil and grease content prevented an improvement for stabilised SS. Major benefits were obtained as lower HRT and high stability with higher methane production and fertilizing (N and P content) characteristics for digestion performance and stabilized SS, whereas direct feeding and higher HRT for PS digestion were determined as beneficial.
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