Organic waste fractions such as sewage sludge, food waste and manure can be stabilized by anaerobic digestion (AD) to produce renewable energy in the form of biogas. Following AD, the digested solid fraction (digestate) is usually dewatered to reduce the volume before transportation. Post-AD treatments such as the Post-AD thermal hydrolysis process (Post-AD THP) have been developed to improve dewatering, but the mode of action is not well understood.
In this study, samples from 32 commercial full-scale plants were used to assess the impact of Post-AD THP on a broad range of raw materials. Maximum dewatered cake solids after Post-AD THP was predicted by thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). Post-AD THP changed the moisture distribution of the samples by increasing the free water fraction. A consistent improvement in predicted dewatered cake solids was achieved across the 32 samples tested, on average increasing the dry solids concentration by 87%.
A full-scale trial showed that dewatering Post-AD THP digestate at 80°C improved dewatered cake solids above the predictions by TGA at 35°C. In conclusion, dewatered cake solids were significantly improved by Post-AD THP, reducing the volume of dewatered cake for disposal.
Download or read the full article in Water Science & Technology.