Sludge Digesters

Anaerobic digestion is more common than aerobic digestion because the anaerobic process does not require an air supply and generally produces enough gas to provide the digester with fuel for heating. Anaerobic digesters can be classified as low-rate, high-rate, and secondary units. The low-rate system merely holds the sludge for long periods (30 days or more). The high-rate system uses some form of mixing and heating to accelerate digestion and consequently has shorter detention periods (10 to 20 days) and can accommodate increased solids loadings.

The high-rate unit is typically followed by a larger secondary digester that furnishes stratification of the supernatant and sludge. At least two digester tanks are provided in addition to a secondary digester tank when such a highrate unit is used. Multiple tanks furnish flexibility and safety if one of the units has an upset.

Aerobic sludge digestion requires an extensive air supply to maintain a DO surplus in the digester. Aerobic digestion tanks are mixed either by air or through agitators to insure aerobic conditions throughout the tank. The supernatant from aerobic digestion, similar to an anaerobic system, is mixed with the raw plant influent. The advan-

FIG. 7.21.14 Conventional sludge disposal with gravity thickener, elutriation, and vacuum filtration.

tages of aerobic tanks is that they are not subject to upsets and produce a more treatable supernatant. The cost of air makes the operating cost of aerobic digestion higher than that of anaerobic digestion.

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