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Anaerobic co-digestion of the aqueous phase from hydrothermally treated waste activated sludge with primary sewage sludge. A kinetic study

Villamil, John A., Mohedano, Angel F., Rodriguez, Juan J., De la Rubia, M.A.
Journal of environmental management 2019 v.231 pp. 726-733
Weibull statistics, activated sludge, alkenes, anaerobic digestion, chemical oxygen demand, hydrolysis, hydrothermal carbonization, inoculum, kinetics, liquids, methane, methane production, phenolic compounds, sewage sludge, total Kjeldahl nitrogen, volatile fatty acids, wastewater treatment
The mesophilic anaerobic co-digestion of the liquid fraction from hydrothermal carbonization (LFHTC) of dewatered waste activated sludge with primary sewage sludge (PSS) has been studied. Mixtures of different composition (25, 50 and 75% of LFHTC on a chemical oxygen demand (COD) basis), as well as the individual substrates, have been tested using two inocula (flocculent (FS) and granular (GS) sludges). Methane production decreased as the LFHTC/PSS ratio increased, which can be related to the presence of recalcitrant compounds in the LFHTC, such as alkenes, phenolics, and other oxygen- and nitrogen-bearing aromatics hard-to-degrade through anaerobic digestion. Methane yield reached 248 ± 11 mL CH4 STP/g CODadded with the GS inoculum and 25% LFHTC. A 74 and a 30% increase of methane production was achieved in the 25% LFHTC runs respect to the obtained in the similar experiments with 100% LFHTC, using the FS and GS inocula, respectively. In those late runs, the COD was reduced more than 86%, with a negligible concentration of total volatile fatty acids. With both inocula, total Kjeldahl nitrogen hydrolysis increased as the LFHTC to PSS mixture ratio decreased, reaching values higher than 79% at the end of the experiments. Methane yield values fitted well the first-order, Cone and Weibull kinetic models for both inocula. Significant differences in the kinetic constant values, ranging from 0.100 to 0.168 d−1 and 0.059–0.068 d−1, were found with the FS and GS inocula, respectively. The results obtained support the potential integration of HTC of dewatered waste activated sludge in wastewater treatment plants.