Anaerobic and Combined Anaerobic/Aerobic Digestion of Thermally Hydrolyzed Sludge

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Tech

Sludge digestion has gained importance in recent year because of increasing interest in energy recovery and public concern over the safety of land applied biosolids. Many new alternatives are being researched for reducing excess sludge production and for more energy production. With an increase in solids destruction, the nutrients that are contained in sludge especially nitrogen, are released to solution and can be recycled as part of filtrate or centrate stream.

Nitrogen has gained importance because it has adverse effects on ecosystem's as well as human health. NH₄⁺, NO₂⁻, NO₃⁻-, and organic nitrogen are the different forms of nitrogen found in wastewater. While ammonia is toxic to aquatic life, any form of nitrogen can be utilized by cyanobacteria and result in eutrophication. NO₂/NO₃, if consumed by infants through water, can affect the oxygen uptake capability. Hence, removal of nitrogen from wastewater stream before discharging is important.

The main purpose of this study was to evaluate the performance of the Cambi process, a thermophylic hydrolysis process used as a pre-treatment step prior to anaerobic digestion. Thermal hydrolysis, as a pre-treatment to anaerobic digestion increases the biological degradation of organic volatile solids and biogas production. The thermal hydrolysis process destroys pathogens and hydrolysis makes the sludge readily available for digestion, while at the same time facilitating a higher degree of separation of solid and liquid phases after digestion.

Experiments were conducted in three phases for anaerobic digestion using the Cambi process as pre-treatment. The phases of study includes comparison of two temperatures for thermal hydrolysis (Cambi 150°C and Cambi 170°C), comparison of two solid retention times in anaerobic digestion (15 Day and 20 Day) and comparison of two mesophilic temperatures in anaerobic digestion (37°C and 42°C). Different experimental analyses were conducted for each phase, such as pH, bio-gas production, COD removal, VS destruction, nitrogen removal, odor and dewatering characteristics and the results are compared among all the phases.

The second part of the study deals with aerobic digestion of anaerobically digested sludge for effective nitrogen removal and additional VS destruction, COD removal. An aerobic digester is operated downstream to anaerobic digester and is operated with aerobic/anoxic phase for nitrification and de-nitrification. The aerobic/anoxic phases are operated in time cycles which included 40minutes/20minutes, 20minutes/20minutes, full aeration, 10minutes/30minutes, and 12minutes/12minutes. Different time cycles are experimented and aerobic digester is optimized for effective nitrogen removal. 12minutes aerobic and 12minutes anoxic phase gave better nitrogen removal compared to all the cycles. Over all the aerobic digester gave about 92% ammonia removal, 70% VS destruction and 70% COD removal. The oxygen uptake rates (OUR's) in the aerobic digester are measured corresponding to maximum nitrogen removal. The OUR's are found to be close to 60 mg/L during maximum nitrogen removal. The effluent from both anaerobic digester and aerobic digester was collected and analyzed for dewatering capability, cake solids concentration and odor potential.

solids removal, COD removal, Ammonia removal and biosolids odors, aerobic digestion, Mesophilic anaerobic digestion