Sewage Treatment Plants - Sludge Treatment and Disposal - Anaerobic Digestion

Anaerobic Digestion

Anaerobic digestion is a bacterial process that is carried out in the absence of oxygen. The process can either be thermophilic digestion, in which sludge is fermented in tanks at a temperature of 55 °C, or mesophilic, at a temperature of around 36 °C. Though allowing shorter retention time (and thus smaller tanks), thermophilic digestion is more expensive in terms of energy consumption for heating the sludge.

Anaerobic digestion is the most common (mesophilic) treatment of domestic sewage in septic tanks, which normally retain the sewage from one day to two days, reducing the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) by about 35 to 40 percent. This reduction can be increased with a combination of anaerobic and aerobic treatment by installing Aerobic Treatment Units (ATUs) in the septic tank.

Mesophilic anaerobic digestion (MAD) is also a common method for treating sludge produced at sewage treatment plants. The sludge is fed into large tanks and held for a minimum of 12 days to allow the digestion process to perform the four stages necessary to digest the sludge. These are hydrolysis, acidogenesis, acetogenesis and methanogenesis. In this process the complex proteins and sugars are broken down to form more simple compounds such as water, carbon dioxide and methane.

One major feature of anaerobic digestion is the production of biogas (with the most useful component being methane), which can be used in generators for electricity production and/or in boilers for heating purposes. Many larger sites utilize the biogas for combined heat and power, using the cooling water from the generators to maintain the temperature of the digestion plant at the required 35 ± 3 °C.

Read more about this topic:  Sewage Treatment Plants, Sludge Treatment and Disposal

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Famous quotes containing the word digestion:

    Now good digestion wait on appetite,
    And health on both!
    William Shakespeare (1564–1616)