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Water Res. 2019 Feb 1;149:406-413. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2018.11.008. Epub 2018 Nov 8.

Increasing capacity of an anaerobic sludge digester through FNA pre-treatment of thickened waste activated sludge.

Author information

1
Advanced Wastewater Management Centre, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, QLD, 4072, Australia; School of Chemistry and Environment, South China Normal University, Guangzhou, 510006, China.
2
Advanced Wastewater Management Centre, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, QLD, 4072, Australia.
3
School of Chemical Engineering, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, QLD, 4072, Australia.
4
School of Environment and Civil Engineering, Dongguan University of Technology, Dongguan, 523808, China.
5
Advanced Wastewater Management Centre, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, QLD, 4072, Australia. Electronic address: z.yuan@awmc.uq.edu.au.

Abstract

Free nitrous acid (FNA) pre-treatment has been previously demonstrated to be effective in enhancing methane production and volatile solids (VS) destruction in the anaerobic digestion of waste activated sludge for an equivalent hydraulic retention time (HRT). We hypothesise that, due to enhancement of hydrolysis kinetics, FNA pre-treatment will also allow reduction in the HRT while retaining performance. This would allow for improvement of capacity constrained digesters. Two anaerobic sludge digesters (control-experiment) were fed with the same thickened waste activated sludge (TWAS) from a full-scale plant for 6 months. With 24 h pre-treatment of TWAS at an FNA concentration of 6.1 mgN/L (NO2-N = 250 mg/L, pH = 5.0, T = 25 °C), the HRT for the experimental anaerobic digester was progressively reduced from 15 days to 12 days and then to 7.5 days. In comparison, the control reactor was operated at a constant HRT of 15 days, representing typical loading conditions. With the shortened HRTs, the experimental AD reactor achieved VS destruction at 36.9 ± 0.8% (12 days) and 36.8 ± 1.0% (7.5 days), representing 30-40% relative increase in comparison to the control reactor (at 26.5 ± 0.8% and 28.3 ± 0.7%, respectively, in the same two periods). This was supported by a similar (31-35%) increase in the methane production per unit of VS fed. The volumetric methane production rate of the experimental digester was increased by 165% at HRT of 7.5 days compared with the control digester at HRT of 15 days. The results demonstrated that FNA pre-treatment of TWAS can substantially increase the capacity of an anaerobic sludge digester, with a highly favourable economic outcome.

KEYWORDS:

Anaerobic digestion; Dewaterability; Free nitrous acid; Methane production; Waste activated sludge

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