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A steady state model for anaerobic digestion of sewage sludges

SW Sötemann, NE Ristow, MC Wentzel, GA Ekama

Abstract


A steady state model for anaerobic digestion of sewage sludge is developed that comprises three sequential parts – a kinetic part from which the % COD removal and methane production are determined for a given retention time; a stoichiometry part from which the gas composition (or partial pressure of CO,sub>2), ammonia released and alkalinity generated are calculated from the %COD removal; and a carbonate system weak acid/base chemistry part from which the digester pH is calculated from the partial pressure of CO2 and alkalinity generated. From the stoichiometry and weak acid base chemistry parts of the model, for a given % COD removal, the digester gas composition, ammonia released, alkalinity generated and digester pH are com¬pletely defined by the influent sludge composition, i.e. X, Y, Z and A in CXHYOZNA of the hydrolysable organics; volatile fatty acid (VFA) concentration; and pH. For the kinetic part of the model, four hydrolysis kinetic equations were calibrated against 7 to 60 d retention time anaerobic digesters treating two different sewage sludge types, viz. first order; first order specific; Monod; and saturation. Once calibrated against the two sludge type data sets and taking into account experimental error in effluent COD concentration and gas production (i.e. COD mass balance error), each of the four hydrolysis kinetic equa¬tions predicted the % COD removal versus retention time equally well, and predicted COD removal and methane production compared well with measured data. For the different sewage sludge types, viz. a primary and humus sludge mixture from a trickling filter plant, and a “pure” primary sludge, different kinetic rate constants were obtained indicating that the “pure” primary sludge hydrolysed faster and had a lower unbiodegradable particulate COD fraction (fPS'up = 0.33) than the primary and humus sludge mixture (0.36). With the %COD removal known from the hydrolysis part of the model, and again taking experimental error into account (i.e. C and N mass balances error), the stoichiometry and weak acid base chemistry parts of the model predicted the gas composition, effluent free and saline ammonia (FSA) concentration, alkalinity generated and digester pH well for a primary and humus sludge composition of C3.5H7O2N0.196. From independent measurement of primary sludge CHON composition, this model estimated composition is within 96%, 100%, 95% and 99% of the average measured composition of C3.65H7O1.97N0.190 lending strong support to the developed steady state model.

Keywords: Anaerobic digestion, steady state model, sewage sludge, hydrolysis kinetics, biodegradability

Water SA Vol. 31(4) 2005: 511-528



http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/wsa.v31i4.5143
AJOL African Journals Online