Many drivers tend to foster the development of renewable energy production in wastewater treatment plants as many expectations rely upon energy recovery from sewage sludge, for example through biogas use. This paper is focused on the assessment of grease waste (GW) as an adequate substrate for co-digestion with municipal sludge, as it has a methane potential of 479–710 LCH4/kg VS, as well as the evaluation of disintegration technologies as a method to optimize the co-digestion process. With this objective three different pre-treatments have been selected for evaluation: thermal hydrolysis, ultrasound and enzymatic treatment. Results have shown that co-digestion processes without pre-treatment had a maximum increment of 128% of the volumetric methane productivity when GW addition was 23% inlet (at 20 days of HRT and with an OLR of 3.0 kg COD/m3d), compared with conventional digestion of sewage sludge alone. Concerning the application of the selected disintegration technologies, all pre-treatments showed improvements in terms of methane yield (51.8, 89.5 and 57.6% more for thermal hydrolysis, ultrasound and enzymatic treatment, respectively, compared with non-pretreated wastes), thermal hydrolysis of GW and secondary sludge being the best configuration as it improved the solubilization of the organic matter and the hydrodynamic characteristics of digestates.
Keywords: co-digestion, disintegration, enzymatic treatment, grease, sewage sludge, thermal hydrolysis, ultrasound