high loaded anaerobic mesophilic digestion of sewage sludge : An evaluation of the critical organic loading rate and hydraulic retention time for the anaerobic digestion process at Käppala Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP).
Abstract: Käppala wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) has, during a few years, observed an increase in organic loading rate (OLR) in the mesophilic anaerobic digester R100, due to an increased load to the WWTP. The digestion of primary sludge at Käppala WWTP is today high loaded, with a high organic loading rate (OLR) and low hydraulic retention time (HRT). This study aims to evaluate the effect of the maximum OLR and the minimum HRT for the anaerobic digestion of sewage sludge and to investigate further actions that can be taken into consideration in case of process problems in the digestion. The study consists of (a) a practical laboratory experiment of 6 pilot-scale reactors to investigate how the process stability is affected when the OLR increases and the HRT decreases. (b) A mass balance calculation based on the energy potential in the feeding sludge and the digested sludge. (c) A study of the filterability of the digested sludge. (d) The construction of a forecasting model in Excel, to predict when digester R100 will reach its maximum OLR and minimum HRT. The result of the study shows that the maximum OLR for Käppala conditions is 4.9 g VS dm-3 d-1, meaning that R100 will reach its maximum organic load around the year 2031. An OLR of 4.5-4.9 and an HRT of 12 days is optimal for R100, according to the present study. Keeping the anaerobic digestion process in balance is vital when it comes to the outcome of energy in the anaerobic digestion process. Pushing the process to produce more gas can become counterproductive since a high OLR can lead to process imbalance, which in turn leads to low biogas production. Imbalance in the digestion process can occur fast; therefore, the margin for overload in the anaerobic digestion process must be significant. The methane concentration in the converted biogas and the pH level in the reactor are the best stability parameters for the conditions at Käppala. Ammonia is the less efficient stability parameter since it did not predict or detect any instability during the experimental process. Furthermore, the OLR and HRT have a significant impact on the needed quantity for dewatering polymer. The higher digestion of organic material in the sludge, the bigger the need for the polymer to take care of the rest material.
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