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Ultrasonic treatment of sewage sludge in order to increase biogas yields

by Ek, Anders

Abstract (Summary)
Biogas, a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide, is produced in the anaerobic digestion of sewage sludge. After anaerobic digestion, the digested sludge is often allowed to degas for one or two days. This gas is seldom utilised, but if the degassing could be accelerated, utilisation would be easier. Ultrasound can be used as a pretreatment method for waste activated sludge. It has a disintegrating effect on the sludge and causes lysis of bacteria in the sludge. It also speeds up the hydrolysis; the limiting step of anaerobic digestion of waste activated sludge. Ultrasound can be used to degas waterbased liquids. Ultrasonic degassing of sewage sludge has not been examined previously. The present study aims to investigate the effect of ultrasound on waste activated sludge as well as the potential of ultrasound to speed up the degassing of digested sludge. A semi-continuous, lab-scale digestion experiment was performed with four reactors: two receiving untreated sludge and two receiving treated sludge. The effect of the sonicator was 420 W and the treatment time was 6 min, which corresponds to an energy input of 8.4 kWh/m3. Total solids (TS) of the waste activated sludge was ~3.5 %. The ultrasonic treatment caused an increase in gas production of 13 %. There was no difference in methane content. The concentration of filterable chemical oxygen demand (fCOD) increased 375 %, or from 2.8 % to 11 % of total COD. In terms of energy loss/gain the increase in gas production resulted in a loss of 2.7 kWh/m3, i.e. more energy is needed to treat the sludge than the potential energy of the increased gas production. However, if the sludge is thickened to a TS >5 %, a net energy gain should be reached. The effect of ultrasound on the degassing of digested sludge was examined in three barrels. The degassing was measured with and without circulation as well as with ultrasonic treatment. The digested sludge had a gas emission rate of 115 L/(m3 day). No direct burst of gas occurred due to ultrasonic treatment. Over two days more gas was emitted from the barrel equipped with ultrasound, probably due to an induced post-digestion. Thus, ultrasonic pretreatment of waste activated sludge increases the biogas yield. It is inconclusive, whether ultrasonic treatment of digested sludge effects the degassing or not.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Linköpings universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:ultrasound waste activated sludge anaerobic digestion biogas digested sewage degassing

ISBN:

Date of Publication:11/09/2005

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