High-loaded thermophilic anaerobic digestion of mixed sewage sludge : A pilot study
Sammanfattning: Municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) are important infrastructural components in a society and also important for sustainability. In a WWTP the most common treatment configuration is mechanical, biological, and chemical treatment of the wastewater. The treatments reduce nutrients and organic matter before the water is transferred to the recipient. During wastewater treatment, sludge is produced and then stabilized in an anaerobic digestion (AD) process. The Käppala Association operates the third largest WWTP in Sweden. In the future the Käppala plant is expecting an increased number of connected households and also stricter sludge hygienization regulations. This implies that current strategies for the WWTP have to be developed. One idea has been to use a thermophilic AD process instead of mesophilic AD.Thermophilic AD has previously been shown to have higher capacities, lower hydraulic retention times (HRT) and increased pathogenic destruction compared to their mesophilic counterpart. A common negative aspect for a thermophilic process has been process instability. In this study a 5 m3 pilot plant rented from Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE) was used to evaluate maximal organic loading rate (OLR) for a stable thermophilic AD process using mixed sludge as substrate. Four HRT were chosen, and each HRT was maintained for 3 retention times. Laboratory analyzes of the raw and digested sludge and on-line monitoring were performed regularly to collect information about process stability and efficiency. The pilot plant was controlled through a surveillance system where operating parameters were introduced. The main objectives of this study were to investigate how an increase of OLR affected pH, alkalinity, and volatile fatty acid (VFA) content and also how the alkalinity and VFA affected the process stability. Gas composition, gas production, degree of digestion (DD) and foaming were also investigated throughout this study. Results showed that VFA initially increased, and alkalinity decreased when every OLR increase occurred. The VFA and alkalinity returned to lower values after the process was given time to recover during constant OLR. The OLR increase caused slight variations in process pH but not enough for process failure. Increased OLR did not seem to have a large impact on the DD since it seemed to remain between 40-50% throughout the entire study. Composition monitoring showed an increased hydrogen sulfide content in the gas as a consequence of increased OLR. An OLR increase also lead to a volumetric gas production (VGP) and volumetric methane production (VMP) increase while efficiency of the AD process was seen to decrease when evaluating specific gas production (SGP) and specific methane production (SMP). The conclusion of the study was that a stable thermophilic AD process using mixed sludge as substrate could be operated with an OLR of 6.55 ± 0.06 kg VS m-3d-1and a HRT of 7 days. Maximal OLR for a stable thermophilic AD process was never achieved due to the process remaining relatively stable the entire experimental period. The process recovered from signs of instability during all HRT-transition times indicating it can maintain all investigated OLR.
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