Thermal pre-treatment of primary and secondary sludge at 70 °C prior to anaerobic digestion

Ioannis Skiadas, Hariklia N. Gavala, J. Lu, Birgitte Kiær Ahring

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    In general, mesophilic anaerobic digestion of sewage sludge is more widely used compared tothermophilic digestion, mainly because of the lower energy requirements and higher stability of the process. However, the thermophilic anaerobic digestion process is usually characterised by accelerated biochemicalreactions and higher growth rate of microorganisms resulting in an increased methanogenic potential atlower hydraulic retention times. Furthermore, thermal pre-treatment is suitable for the improvement ofstabilization and could be realized at relatively low cost especially at low temperatures. The present studyinvestigates the effect of the pre-treatment at 70 °C on thermophilic (55 °C) anaerobic digestion of primaryand secondary sludge in continuously operated digesters. Thermal pre-treatment of primary and secondarysludge at 70 °C enhanced the removal of organic matter and the methane production during the subsequentanaerobic digestion step at 55 °C. It also greatly contributed to the destruction of pathogens present inprimary sludge. Finally it results in enhanced microbial activities of the subsequent anaerobic stepsuggesting that the same efficiencies in organic matter removal and methane recovery could be obtained atlower HRTs.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalWater Science and Technology
    Issue number1-2
    Pages (from-to)1121-1124
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


    • Activity
    • Pre-treatment
    • Primary sludge
    • Secondary sludge
    • Thermophilic digestion


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