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Dissolving organic matter from low-organic sewage sludge for shortening the anaerobic digestion time

Li, Yiyong, Hu, Yongyou, Huang, Guofu, Yu, Ziqi, Bi, Wei, Fan, Hao, Du, Jianjun
RSC advances 2018 v.8 no.64 pp. 36951-36958
alkaline hydrolysis, anaerobic digestion, chemical oxygen demand, methane, methane production, neutralization, organic matter, pH, sewage sludge
Pretreatments have been successfully used to shorten the HRT of anaerobic digestion (AD) of sewage sludge, but they become ineffective for low-organic sewage sludge, with HRT > 10 days. Herein, a new process using alkaline hydrolysis-anaerobic digestion has been developed to solve this problem. Firstly, maximum organic matter in the sludge was dissolved by strong alkaline hydrolysis (pH > 11) in a two-stage alkaline hydrolysis system (TSAHS). Secondly, only the supernatant of the sludge that contained most of the methane potential was applied for AD. The operational conditions were optimized and the process mechanism was also analyzed. The results showed that under optimum operational conditions, above 19% of the organic matter in the sludge was released into the supernatant after alkaline hydrolysis in TSAHS, and the supernatant for AD achieved a methane production of 392 mL CH₄ per g COD. The process attained a methane production of 0.26 m³ CH₄ per kg VS and a VS reduction of 43.5%, while the HRT was only 12 h. The advantage of the mechanism was that the alkaline neutralization capacity of the sludge maintained a proper pH value for the supernatant from TSAHS, which benefited subsequent AD. It is concluded that the new process based on the dissolution of organic matter can attain a short digestion time for low-organic sludge.