Mesophilic and thermophilic anaerobic digestion of primary and secondary sludge. Effect of pre-treatment at elevated temperature

Hariklia N. Gavala, U. Yenal, Ioannis V. Skiadas, Peter Westermann, Birgitte Kiær Ahring

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Anaerobic digestion is an appropriate technique for the treatment of sludge before final disposal and it is employed worldwide as the oldest and most important process for sludge stabilization. In general, mesophilic anaerobic digestion of sewage sludge is more widely used compared to thermophilic digestion. Furthermore, thermal pre-treatment is suitable for the improvement of stabilization, enhancement of dewatering of the sludge, reduction of the numbers of pathogens and could be realized at relatively low cost especially at low temperatures. The present study investigates (a) the differences between mesophilic and thermophilic anaerobic digestion of sludge and (b) the effect of the pretreatment at 70 degreesC on mesophilic and thermophilic anaerobic digestion of primary and secondary sludge. The pretreatment step showed very positive effect on the methane potential and production rate upon subsequent thermophilic digestion of primary sludge. The methane production rate was mostly influenced by the pre-treatment of secondary sludge followed by mesophilic and thermophilic digestion whereas the methane potential only was positively influenced when mesophilic digestion followed. Our results suggest that the selection of the pre-treatment duration as well as the temperature of the subsequent anaerobic step for sludge stabilization should depend on the ratio of primary to secondary sludge.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalWater Research
    Issue number19
    Pages (from-to)4561-4572
    Publication statusPublished - 2003

    Cite this