Enhanced Biogas Production by Increasing Organic Load Rate in Mesophilic Anaerobic Digestion with Sludge Recirculation

For enhancing anaerobic sludge digestion and biogas recovery, an increase in organic load rate (OLR) from 1.0 to 3.0kgVS/(m3·day) was imposed upon a new anaerobic digestion process combined with a sludge recirculation. The new setup requires a traditional mesophilic anaerobic digester coupled with a centrifuge for maintaining relatively high solid content within the digester.

The hypothesis of this study was that increasing continuously OLR from 1.0 to 3.0kgVS/(m3·day) in a pilot-scale anaerobic digester with recycled sludge would not badly influence the digester stability, based on which biogas production would be enhanced.

To test this hypothesis, a continuous 73-day study with laboratory experiment was conducted. Due to scarcity of original feeding sludge and its deteriorating quality, OLR had to be increased relied on introduction of extra sludge followed by measurement of total solid (TS) and volatile solid (VS) contents in both feeding sludge and digester sludge, for calculating OLR and examining its variations.

To assess the relationship between biogas production and OLR, a measurement of gas yield and methane content was a necessity, performed by applying a biogas flow meter and MSA AUER EX-METER II (P). Moreover, temperature, pH value, volatile fatty acid (VFA) and alkalinity must be tested frequently, for the purpose of preventing system failure.

The results demonstrate that the digester succeeded in withstanding an OLR up to 3.15kgVS/(m3·day). Furthermore, an enhancement in biogas yield and methane content were observed after increasing the OLR by introducing extra sludge.

Biogas production measurement performed during this study indicated that biogas yield was enhanced by 73%, with a maximum production of 14.5m3/day, when OLR was increased from 2.05 to 3.15kgVS/(m3·day).

However, methane content was merely promoted by 10.5%, to the highest value of 63%, with the same increase in OLR. Specific gas production (SGP), as another means of evaluating the relationship between biogas production and OLR, was observed to be 0.65Nm3/kg VSin averagely.
Source: KTH
Author: Huang, Zhanzhao

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