Codigestion of organic waste with municipal wastewater sludge is growing rapidly. It has many benefits, including diversion of organic waste from landfills, increased renewable energy from biogas production, and potential for revenue from tipping fees. However, there are still barriers to greater widespread application of codigestion. Economics, need for collaboration between utilities, impacts on wastewater application, unsupportive regulations and risks to core wastewater treatment business are obstacles that slow wider adoption of codigestion throughout the world. The research presented analyzes the economic impacts of codigestion, predicts the additional biogas production, and determines the allowable organic loading rate and fats oils and grease (FOG) addition for stable digestion operation. The economic impacts were analyzed on a life cycle cost basis and presented in terms of required tipping fees for different organic wastes, electric rates and residuals handling costs. Standard biochemical methane potential tests were conducted to estimate biogas production from various organic wastes. The specific energy loading rate (SELR) was used to express the allowable organic loading rate. Results from the economic analysis showed that codigestion using existing digesters at a municipal water reclamation facility is more economical than building new digesters. Codigestion was more economical at facilities with high electricity costs and low cost of residuals. Tipping fees for receiving organic waste would be required to offset the net cost of codigestion for wastes other than FOG. There was a net positive economic benefit of receiving FOG without a tipping fee. The upper limit of FOG for stable digestion was found to be 60 percent of the feed by chemical oxygen demand (COD). Stable digestion can be achieved with an SELR of less than 0.25 kgCOD/day/kgVS. The SELR accounts for the strength or energy content of the organic feed measured in COD. It was observed and accounted for by the SELR that anaerobic digesters loaded at higher solids concentrations (resulting in greater inventory of microorganisms in the digesters) can be fed at higher loading rates. Insights into the economics of codigestion and allowable organic loading rates for high strength organic wastes help to overcome some of the barriers to widespread application of codigestion.
Research Article|June 01 2016
Overcoming barriers to codigestion
D. L. Parry
Water Practice and Technology (2016) 11 (2): 413-422.