Identification and generation pattern of odor-causing compounds in dewatered biosolids during long-term storage and effect of digestion and dewatering techniques on odors
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The main objective of this research was to identify the compounds responsible for persistent odors in biosolids during long-term storage using olfactometry measurements and to determine their generation pattern with regard to time of appearance and decline using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Another objective of this study was to investigate the effect of various digestion and dewatering techniques on odors and determine if there is a correlation between the peak concentration and time of appearance of short-tem organic sulfur odors and persistent odors. Headspace analysis was used to quantify short-term odor-causing organic sulfur compounds and persistent odors from compounds such as indole, skatole, butyric acid and p-cresol for an incubation period up to 150 days. A unique odor generation pattern was observed for each of the compounds analyzed for all the dewatered cakes tested in this study. Dewatered cake samples were also analyzed to determine their detection threshold by a trained odor panel and the results were consistent with the general pattern of odor generation observed in this study. Positive correlations were observed between the peak concentration of organic sulfur and persistent odor compounds whereas little or no relationship was observed between their times of appearance. The type of sludge used in digestion (primary sludge, WAS and mix) was found to affect the production of odor-causing compounds significantly. Primary sludge produces the highest odors followed by mix. WAS was found to produce biosolids with a low odor concentration. Positive correlation was observed between odor concentration and digestion SRT. Significant reduction in odor concentration was observed when the SRT was increased from 12-days to 25-days. At 45-day SRT, further reduction in odors was not very significant. Moreover, the results from this study indicate that methanogens play an important role in the degradation of both organic sulfur and persistent odors. Although the highest odors during biosolids incubation came from sulfur compounds, the persistent odors must be managed as part of a comprehensive sludge management approach.
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