Vacuum evaporation treatment of digestate: full exploitation of cogeneration heat to process the whole digestate production

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Vacuum evaporation represents an interesting and innovative solution for managing animal waste surpluses in areas with high livestock density. To reduce operational costs, a key factor is the availability of an inexpensive source of heat, such as that coming from an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant. The aim of this study was to test vacuum evaporation for the treatment of cattle slurry digestate focusing on heat exploitation. Tests were performed with a pilot plant fed with the digestate from a full-scale AD plant. The results were used to evaluate if and how cogeneration heat can support both the AD plant and the subsequent evaporation of the whole daily digestate production in a full-scale plant. The concentrate obtained (12% total solids) represents 40–50% of the influent. The heat requirement is 0.44 kWh/kg condensate. Heat power availability exceeding the needs of the digestor ranges from 325 (in winter) to 585 kW (in summer) versus the 382 kW required for processing the whole digestate production. To by-pass fluctuations, we propose to use the heat coming from the cogenerator directly in the evaporator, tempering the digestor with the latent heat of distillation vapor.

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