Application of thermal analysis for evaluating the digestion of microwave pre-treated sewage sludge
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The effect of microwave pre-treatment (MwP) on anaerobic digestion of sewage sludge was studied by means of thermal analysis and evolved gas analysis. The effect of the pre-treatment at low energy input (<1000 kJ L−1) on sludge solubilisation was studied with the aid of response surface methodology. The pre-treatment process was subsequently studied at energies of 488–2700 kJ L−1 to evaluate the improvement in biogas production under mesophilic conditions. Organic matter modifications were studied using a Setaram TGA92 analyser at atmospheric pressure coupled to an MSC200 quadrupole mass spectrometer from Balzers. Particle size analysis was carried out using a Laser Diffraction Particle Size Analyser LS 13 320 Beckmann Coulter for evaluating the effect of MwP on sludge particles. Results showed an increase in organic matter solubilisation with the increase in the energy applied. Modifications in the specific surface area of the organic matter due to the MwP resulted in increments in methane yields. However, an accumulation of complex compounds was observed in thermal profiles at the maximum energy input (2700 kJ L−1). Semi-continuous digestion experiments were evaluated using as substrate pre-treated sludge at the optimum energy value (975 kJ L−1). Results showed a significant increase in methane yield (43 %) when evaluating the process at hydraulic retention times (HRTs) of 25–10 days.
KeywordsSewage sludge Anaerobic digestion Microwave pre-treatment Thermal analysis Particle size analysis
This research was made possible by the financial support from the Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad through the project CTQ2015-68925-R. R. Moreno acknowledges financial support from the Junta de Castilla y León (Orden EDU/828/2014) co-financed by the European Social Fund.
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