Mesophilic anaerobic co-digestion of municipal wastewater sludge and un-dewatered grease trap waste
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Fat, oil, and grease residues, food particles, solids and some kitchen wastewaters are collected in grease traps which are separate from the municipal wastewater stream. Grease traps are emptied periodically and grease trap waste (GTW) is hauled for treatment. This dissertation focuses on anaerobic co-digestion of un-dewatered (raw) GTW with municipal wastewater treatment sludge (MWS) at wastewater treatment plants. In particular, this research focuses on the biochemical methane potential of un-dewatered GTW as well as the stability and performance of anaerobic co-digestion of MWS and un-dewatered GTW. A set of modified biochemical methane potential tests was performed to determine the methane potential of un-dewatered GTW under mesophilic conditions (35 °C). Methane potential of un-dewatered GTW in this study was 606 mL CH₄/g VS [subscript added] which is less than previously reported methane potentials of 845 - 1050 mL CH₄/g VS [subscript added] for concentrated/dewatered GTW. However, the methane potential of un-dewatered GTW (606 mL CH₄/g VS [subscript added]) was more than two times greater than the 223 mL CH₄/g VS [subscript added] reported for MWS digestion alone. A comprehensive study was performed to determine the stability and performance of anaerobic co-digestion of MWS with un-dewatered GTW as a function of increasing GTW feed ratios. The performance of two semi-continuously fed anaerobic digesters at 35 °C was evaluated as a function of increasing GTW feed ratios. Anaerobic co-digestion of MWS with un-dewatered GTW at a 46% GTW feed ratio (on a volatile solids basis) resulted in a 67% increase in methane production and a 26% increase in volatile solids reduction compared to anaerobic digestion of MWS alone. On the other hand, anaerobic co-digestion of un-dewatered GTW resulted in a higher inhibition threshold (46% on VS basis) than that of dewatered GTW. These results indicate that using un-dewatered GTW instead of dewatered GTW can reduce the inhibition risk of anaerobic co-digestion of MWS and GTW. Recovery of the anaerobic digesters following upset conditions was also evaluated and semi-continuous feed of digester effluent into upset digesters yielded of the biogas production level of the undisrupted digestion. Finally, a mathematical model was used to describe the relationship between methane potential and GTW feed ratio on a VS basis. The results of this research can be used to predict methane production and identify suitable GTW feeding ratios for successful co-digestion of un-dewatered GTW and MWS.