dual anaerobic co-digestion of sewage sludge and confectionery waste

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  • Dual anaerobic co-digestion of sewage sludge and confectionerywaste

    S. Lafitte-Trouque, C.F. Forster*

    School of Civil Engineering, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK

    Received 21 December 1998; received in revised form 24 February 1999; accepted 9 March 1999

    Abstract

    Three configurations for a dual digestion system were examined. The units were based on three 5 l completely stirred tank re-

    actors (CSTR). A first-stage thermophilic digester was used to provide the feed to each of the two second-stage mesophilic (35C)digesters. Using a mixture of sewage sludge and strong confectionery waste, the thermophilic digester was operated at 55C with ahydraulic retention time of 4 h. The mesophilic digesters were operated at hydraulic retention times of 8, 12 and 15 days. In terms of

    the reduction of volatile solids (VS), the three dual digestion configurations were similar but were more eective than the single-stage

    reactor which was used as a control. However, based on the specific methane yield (m3 CH4/kg VS removed), the configuration with

    a first stage operating at 55C and a secondary digester at 35C with a hydraulic retention time of 12 days was the most eective.This configuration also maintained a more stable pH, irrespective of the quality of the feed sludge. 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. Allrights reserved.

    Keywords: Anaerobic digestion; Hydraulic retention time; Thermophilic/mesophilic dual digestion; Performance

    1. Introduction

    The biological treatment of sewage and industrialwastewaters will invariably generate a surplus sludgewhich must be processed and disposed of in an envi-ronmentally acceptable manner. The Municipal Waste-water Treatment Directive prohibits the disposal ofsludge to sea. Thus, alternative disposal routes will needto be established. The Directive also requires that agreater degree of treatment is aorded to many otherdischarges. This will generate further quantities ofsludge. If disposal to agricultural land is considered,these sludges will have to be stabilised both chemicallyand biologically (Matthews, 1992; Wright, 1992). It islikely that, in the future, the degree of biological stabi-lisation will be extended and that pasteurisation ofsludges will be required. Mesophilic anaerobic digestion,which currently is the accepted way of achieving sludgestabilisation, does not achieve pasteurisation. Pasteu-rising conditions have been defined as 70C/30 min or55C/4 h (Anon, 1989). Thermophilic digestion would

    achieve this, provided the retention time was long en-ough.

    Industrial organic wastes are also an integral part ofa developed society. Many of these are readily biode-gradable and, in recent years, considerable eort hasgone into examining the treatment of these wastes byanaerobic digestion (Bull et al., 1984; Garcia et al.,1991). Provided that digester capacity was available, itwould seem logical to consider the co-digestion ofmany of these industrial wastes in existing sewagesludge digesters. The concept of centralised co-diges-tion is not new (Forster and Jones, 1976; Converti etal., 1997) and, indeed, Thames Waste Management(UK) are actively pursuing a co-digestion policy forsewage sludge and the putrescible fraction of householdwaste. If co-digestion of organic wastes and sewagesludge is to be developed, the process would have toconform to any requirements for the digestion of sew-age sludge by itself and this could, in the future, meanpasteurisation.

    As well as stabilising the sludge microbiologically,any digestion process must optimise the production ofgas in relation to the size of the digester and the de-struction of volatile solids (VS). Coupling these factswith the need for a greater microbial stabilisation has

    Bioresource Technology 71 (2000) 7782

    * Corresponding author. Tel.: +44 0121 414 5069; fax: +44 0121 414

    5051; e-mail: c.f.forster@bham.ac.uk

    0960-8524/00/$ see front matter 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.PII: S 0 9 6 0 - 8 5 2 4 ( 9 9 ) 0 0 0 4 3 - 7

  • led to the concept of dual digestion. That is to say, atwo-stage system with one stage being operated in thethermophilic range and one in the mesophilic range. Anumber of workers have evaluated dual digestion. Forexample, Oles et al. (1997) have used a thermophilic (5560C) first-stage digester for acidogenesis coupled with amesophilic second-stage. The results demonstrated thatthere was a significant reduction in the time required toachieve a specified degradation of organic matter,compared with a single-stage digester. However, boththese earlier studies used retention times in the ther-mophilic reactor of >1 day. Working with a singlesubstrate, sewage sludge, Roberts et al. (1999a, b) haveshown that a dual thermophilicmesophilic digestioncould operate eectively with the thermophilic first-stagehaving a retention time of 4 h. The authors are notaware of any studies into the use of the dual digestionconcept for co-digestion.

    This paper, therefore, compares the results obtainedfrom the dual digestion systems which were operatedwith dierent hydraulic retention times in the second-stage units. The feed for the units was a mixture of ac-tivated sludge and a strong confectionery waste. Thepaper also compares the results with those obtainedfrom a single-stage mesophilic digester with a hydraulicretention time of 20 days which was used as a control.

    2. Methods

    2.1. Wastes

    For ease of operation, the feed for the digestion sys-tems was waste activated-sludge. This was obtainedfrom a full-scale activated sludge plant operated bySevern Trent Water and was stored in a refridgerated(5C) tank (300 l) until use. Typically, this had a VSconcentration of 45 g/l. The loading rates applied to thedigesters are given in Table 1. In the case of the dualdigestion systems, the loading rates were calculated onthe basis of the overall retention times.

    The confectionery waste, consisting mainly of sugarsyrups, was obtained from a local factory on a weeklybasis and was stored at 5C until required.

    2.2. Digesters

    The two dual digestion systems consisted of threeidentical continuously-stirred tank reactors, which con-sisted of a purpose-built flanged glass tank with a sideport such that the working volume was 5 l (Fig. 1). Oneof these, designated TAND-55, was operated at 55Cand acted as a first-stage unit which was common toboth second-stage digesters. The feed was pumped to thebase of the reactor by a peristaltic pump (WatsonMarlow, Model 302S) at a rate of 30 l/d giving a re-tention time of 4 h. The stirrer speed was controlled at70 rpm (Electrolab, Bredon, Glos.) and the temperaturewas controlled at 55C by a heating pad/thermistersystem (Electrolab, Bredon, Glos.). The flow from thisdigester was collected in a stirred splitter-box fromwhere it was pumped to the two second-stage digesters,any excess going to waste. The second-stage digesterswere identical in design to the thermophilic unit butwere operated at 35C. Initially, (Phase 1) one was op-erated at a hydraulic retention time of 8 days and theother at 12 days. These were designated DUAL-55/8 andDUAL-55/12. After 70 days Phase 2 was started and thehydraulic retention time of DUAL-55/8 was increased to15 days and the system was re-designated as DUAL-55/15. From day 86, the COD of the confectionery wastewas lowered to 7000 mg/l to counteract a foamingproblem. The feed pumps (Watson Marlow, Model302S) were controlled by a timer and were operated oncea day.

    Table 1

    Sludge loading rate applied to the dierent digesters

    Regime Sludge loading rates (kg VS/m3d)

    Max. Min. Mean (SD)

    SS-20 0.403 0.234 0.333 (0.039)

    DUAL-55/8 0.859 0.432 0.631 (0.125)

    DUAL-55/12 0.560 0.280 0.422 (0.068

    DUAL-55/15 0.492 0.288 0.408 (0.064)

    Fig. 1. Schematic diagram of the dual digestion unit showing splitter

    box (A) the thermophilic anaerobic digester (TAND-55) and the two

    mesophilic anaerobic digesters (MAD-1 and MAD-2).

    78 S. Lafitte-Trouque, C.F. Forster / Bioresource Technology 71 (2000) 7782

  • The single-stage digester (SS-20) was constructedfrom a pyrex bottle (10 l) which had been sealed with asilicone rubber stopper drilled to allow a stirrer and aninlet/exit line to be fitted. The stirrer (Model RW16,IKA Labortechnik) operated at 200 rpm and was driventhrough a guide shaft which ended 15 cm below theliquid level to avoid gas losses. The inlet/exit line alsostarted at this level. The temperature was maintained at35C by standing the digester in a water bath. Sludgewas pumped (Model 7554, Cole Parmer Instrument) outof the digester on a daily basis and was replaced by theactivated sludge/confectionery waste mixture. The sol-ids retention time of 20 days was regulated by theamount of sludge removed each day. The gas from allthe digesters was collected by the downward displace-ment of acidified (0.5M H2SO4) water and measured atSTP.

    2.3. Analytical methods

    Total and VS were measured by the standard gravi-metric methods (Greenberg et al., 1992). Alkalinity wasmeasured by titration with 0.05M H2SO4 and the pH byusing a standard electrode/meter (Mettler Toledo,Model 320). Volatile fatty acids (VFAs) were measuredwith a gas chromatograph (GC) (Cambridge Ai GC94)which had been calibrated with dilutions of a standardmixture of acids (acetic 1000 mg/l, propionic to cap-roic 500 mg/l). A megabore column (D-BFFAP,30 m 0.536 mm ID) was used and the carrier gas washelium (3.2 ml/min). The initial column temperature of105C was increased at the rate of 30 per minute until atemperature of 145C had been reached and then at arate of 15 per minute until a temperature of 190C wasachieved. Samples were centrifuged (6000 rpm/30 min),and then filtered through a 0.2 lm nitro-cellulosemembrane. Before analysis, the sample (1.0 ml)

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