Anaerobic Digesters Heated by Direct Steam Injection: Experience and Lessons Learned

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The City of Crystal Lake (Illinois) municipal wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) employs an anaerobic digester heating system that differentiates itself from most heating systems by using direct steam injection (DSI). This heating system has been in operation for over four years.

Selection criterion included: high energy efficiency, small footprint, low maintenance costs and tight temperature control. Initial concerns over killing anaerobic microbes and struvite formation have been dispelled. Solids destruction averages 46% with a corresponding digester gas production of 35,000 ft3/day, saving the city approximately $8000 per month. Operational experience has been excellent with no heater-related problems.

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