Wastewater Carbon Diversion and Recovery via Primary Sludge Production, Thermal Hydrolysis, and Anaerobic Digestion

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Virginia Tech

This study aims to provide the latest understanding of cutting-edge technologies that enable wastewater organic carbon diversion and recovery through the enhancement of sludge production and blending, digestibility, dewaterability, and dewatered cake odor emission control. A comprehensive literature review showed that iron-based coagulants tend to show less negative impact than aluminum-based coagulants. This can be attributed to the reduction of ferric to ferrous ions in the course of anaerobic digestion (AD), which leads to a suite of changes in protein bioavailability, alkalinity, and hydrogen sulfide levels, and in turn the sludge dewaterability and odor potential. In terms of the roles of thermal hydrolysis pretreatment (THP), the mechanism review indicated that the improvement of sludge dewaterability and anaerobic digestibility as a result of THP was because of the destruction of extracellular polymeric substances and increase of hydrolysis rate. However, THP also brings side effects such as high free residual ammonia and recalcitrant dissolved organic nitrogen (rDON) in the effluent. Besides, a comprehensive understanding of the formation of the odorous compounds in the sludge treatment processes indicated that sulfurous and nitrogenous compounds are usually regarded as the major odor-causing substances. A Pilot THP-AD study indicated that adding aluminum to produce primary sludge can improve overall plant sludge digestibility, dewaterability, and well as the rDON reduction. Moreover, results from a pilot THP-AD and biochemical methane potential (BMP) test study indicated that adding a secondary thermal hydrolysis after a primary thermal hydrolysis-AD system can still create new BMP. Finally, a pilot study was conducted to evaluate the effect of aeration in the sludge holding tank on biosolids odor emission. The two rounds of bench-scale aeration studies indicated that aerating the sludge in holding tanks reduced peak emission concentrations of sulfurous odorous compounds. Further full-scale validation confirmed that aeration can be used by utilities as a simple means for biosolids odor control.

Biosolids, Thermal hydrolysis, Anaerobic digestion, Coagulant, Odor