Using Anaerobic Co-Digestion With Addition of Municipal Organic Wastes and Pre-Treatment to Enhance Biogas Production From Wastewater Treatment Plant Sludge
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In this project, by adding selected co-substrates and by incorporating optimum pre-treatment strategies, four experimental phases were conducted to assess the enhancement of biogas production from anaerobic co-digestion using wastewater treatment plant sludge as the primary substrate. In the first phase, the feasibility of using municipal organic wastes (synthetic kitchen waste (KW) and fat, oil and grease (FOG)) as co-substrates in anaerobic co-digestion was investigated. KW and FOG positively affected biogas production from anaerobic co-digestion, with ideal estimated substrate/inoculum (S/I) ratio ranges of 0.80-1.26 and 0.25-0.75, respectively. Combined linear and non-linear regression models were employed to represent the entire digestion process and demonstrated that FOG could be suggested as the preferred co-substrate. The effects of ultrasonic and thermo-chemical pre-treatments on the biogas production of anaerobic co-digestion with KW or FOG were investigated in the second phase. Non-linear regressions fitted to the data indicated that thermo-chemical pre-treatment could increase methane production yields from both FOG and KW co-digestion. Thermo-chemical pre-treatments of pH=10, 55°C provided the best conditions to increase methane production from FOG co-digestions. In the third phase, using the results obtained previously, anaerobic co-digestions with FOG were tested in bench-scale semi-continuous flow digesters at Ravensview Water Pollution Control Plant, Kingston, ON. The effects of hydraulic retention time (HRT), organic loading rate (OLR) and digestion temperature (37°C and 55°C) on biogas production were evaluated. The best biogas production rate of 17.4±0.86 L/d and methane content 67.9±1.46% was obtained with thermophilic (55°C) co-digestion at HRT=24 days and OLR=2.43±0.15 g TVS/L•d. In the fourth phase, with the suitable co-substrate, optimum pre-treatment method and operational parameters identified from the previous phases, anaerobic co-digestions with FOG were investigated in a two-stage thermophilic semi-continuous flow co-digestion system modified to incorporate thermo-chemical pre-treatment of pH=10 at 55°C. Overall, the modified two-stage co-digestion system yielded a 25.14±2.14 L/d (with 70.2±1.4% CH4) biogas production, which was higher than that obtained in the two-stage system without pre-treatment. The positive results could provide valuable information and original contribution to justify full-scale investigation in a continuing research program and to the field of research on anaerobic co-digestion of municipal organic wastes.