Many existing wastewater treatment plants are to be upgraded for phosphorus removal. In our study, ferric chloride was used as a coagulant in pre-precipitation of municipal sewage. Using a Fe/P molar ratio of 0.8, removal efficiencies for suspended solids (64%), chemical oxygen demand (50%), Kjeldahl nitrogen (22%), total phosphorus (43%) and orthophosphate (51%) were obtained. Anaerobic digestion of raw primary sludge yielded a volatile solids (VS) destruction of 35% at VS loading rates of 0.60 to 0.79 kg VS/m3.d. Digestion of chemically enriched primary sludge (CEP-sludge) yielded a VS destruction of 57% at a VS loading rate of 1.36 kgVS/m3.d. Comparison of the methane production per kg VS destroyed (519 to 612 1 CH4/kgVS destroyed for primary sludge, 299 to 395 1 CH4/kgVS destroyed for CEP-sludge) evidenced a change in the composition of the organic material after precipitation with coagulants; the latter sludge was enriched in less reduced compounds. The precipitated phosphorus was not released to the supernatant during anaerobic digestion. No evidence for reduced digester stability was found for digestion of CEP-sludge. These results indicate that retro-fitting a plant by chemical pre-precipitation and subsequent anaerobic digestion of the CEP-sludge is a feasible option.

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