Examination of food waste co-digestion to manage the peak in energy demand at wastewater treatment plants

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Many digesters in Germany are not operated at full capacity; this offers the opportunity for co-digestion. Within this research the potentials and limits of a flexible and adapted sludge treatment are examined with a focus on the digestion process with added food waste as co-substrate. In parallel, energy data from a municipal wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) are analysed and lab-scale semi-continuous and batch digestion tests are conducted. Within the digestion tests, the ratio of sewage sludge to co-substrate was varied. The final methane yields show the high potential of food waste: the higher the amount of food waste the higher the final yield. However, the conversion rates directly after charging demonstrate better results by charging 10% food waste instead of 20%. Finally, these results are merged with the energy data from the WWTP. As an illustration, the load required to cover base loads as well as peak loads for typical daily variations of the plant's energy demand are calculated. It was found that 735 m³ raw sludge and 73 m³ of a mixture of raw sludge and food waste is required to cover 100% of the base load and 95% of the peak load.

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