A modified anaerobic digestion process with chemical sludge pre-treatment and its modelling
Activated Sludge Models (ASMs) assume an unbiodegradable organic particulate fraction in the activated sludge, which is derived from the decay of active microorganisms in the sludge and/or introduced from wastewater. In this study, a seasonal change of such activated sludge constituents in a municipal wastewater treatment plant was monitored for 1.5 years. The chemical oxygen demand ratio of the unbiodegradable particulates to the sludge showed a sinusoidal pattern ranging from 40 to 65% along with the change of water temperature in the plant that affected the decay rate. The biogas production in a laboratory-scale anaerobic digestion (AD) process was also affected by the unbiodegradable fraction in the activated sludge fed. Based on the results a chemical pre-treatment using H2O2 was conducted on the digestate to convert the unbiodegradable fraction to a biodegradable one. Once the pre-treated digestate was returned to the digester, the methane conversion increased up to 80% which was about 2.4 times as much as that of the conventional AD process, whilst 96% of volatile solids in the activated sludge was digested. From the experiment, the additional route of the organic conversion processes for the inert fraction at the pre-treatment stage was modelled on the ASM platform with reasonable simulation accuracy.