Thermal Hydrolysis of LCFAs and Influence of pH on Acid-phase Codigestion of FOG
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Two different sludge pretreatments were investigated in an attempt to improve the management and performance of processes for the co-digestion of biosolids with fats, oils, and grease (FOG). The mechanisms of long chain fatty acids (LCFA) degradation in thermal hydrolysis pretreatment and the influence of pH on LCFA degradation in two-phase co-digestion systems were studied. LCFA thermal hydrolysis was investigated at different temperatures (90-250 °C) and reaction times (30 minutes and 8 hours). Approximately 1% of saturated fatty acids were degraded to shorter chain fatty acids at 140 and 160 °C (8-hr thermal hydrolysis). Only 1% or less of unsaturated fatty acids were degraded from 90 to 160 °C (8-hr thermal hydrolysis). Little degradation (< 1%) of both saturated and unsaturated LCFAs was observed at a 30-min reaction time. Both groups of LCFAs were stable up to 250 °C (30-min hydrolysis). The use of chemical-thermal treatments was also investigated. Only unsaturated LCFAs, C18:1 and C18:2, were degraded when thermally hydrolyzed with hydrogen peroxide coupled with activated carbon or copper sulfate. Semi-continuous, acid-phase digesters (APDs) under different pH conditions were studied in order to understand the effects of pH on FOG degradation. Increases in soluble chemical oxygen demand (SCOD) were observed in all APDs. However, the APDs with pH adjustment appeared to perform better than the controls in terms of solubilizing organic compounds. Approximately 38% and 29% of total COD (TCOD) was solubilized, and maximum volatile fatty acid (VFA) concentrations of 10,700 and 7,500 mg/L TCOD were achieved at pH 6 and 7, respectively; It is useful to note that the feed sludge had a VFA concentration of 2,700 mg/L COD. Higher pH (6.0-7.0) showed less accumulation of LCFA materials and more soluble LCFAs in the APDs. This indicates that the lower pH in the APDs was most likely the cause of precipitation and accumulation of LCFAs due to saturation of unsaturated LCFAs.
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