The process of anaerobic thermophilic digestion of municipal wastewater sludge with a recycled part of thickened digested sludge, was studied in semi-continuous laboratory digesters. This modified recycling process resulted in increased solids retention time (SRT) with the same hydraulic retention time (HRT) as compared with traditional digestion without recycling. Increased SRT without increasing of HRT resulted in the enhancement of volatile substance reduction by up to 68% in the reactor with the recycling process compared with 34% in a control conventional reactor. Biogas production was intensified from 0.3 L/g of influent volatile solids (VS) in the control reactor up to 0.35 L/g VS. In addition, the recycling process improved the dewatering properties of digested sludge.
Keywords: anaerobic digestion, high efficiency, sludge recycle, solids reduction, SRT and HRT decoupling, wastewater sludge