Recent U.S. EPA regulations (40 CFR Section 503) specify maximum concentrations of pathogens and metals for Class A wastewater treatment plant sludges. The most common sludge process is mesophilic (35¡C) digestion which stabilizes the solids, produces a combustible gas but does not create an effluent that meets the 503 Class A pathogen requirements. This investigation was conducted to determine whether anaerobic digestion processes incorporating a thermophilic stage could achieve 503 Class A pathogen levels. The research reported here was a bench-scale screening study meant to identify the most promising process alternatives for further investigation. Fecal Coliform (FC) concentrations were used to assess disinfection efficiency. Digesters were 30 L capacity fed semi-continuously in draw-fill mode. Digester startup was rapid to produce true thermophiles. Temperature staging and pH were assessed in 3 sets of experiments: Set 1 were one stage (“acid phase”), Set 2 were one stage (“acid + methane phases”) and Set 3 were two stage (“acid phase” then “methanogenic phase”). Feed was a 1:1 mixture of Thickened Waste Activated Sludge and Primary Sludge. The following anaerobic digestion configurations and operating parameters allowed the production of digested sludge with a mean FC concentration statistically less than 103 (the regulatory value for Class A sludge): thermophilic single stage acid phase at 52 and 62°C; thermophilic single stage acid + methane phase at 48°C, 52°C and 62°C; two-stage mesophilic acid phase followed by mesophilic methane phase; two stage mesophilic acid phase followed by thermophilic methane phase at 48°C, 52°C and 62°C. If the maximum digested FC concentration must be below 103 MPN/g TS then the following digester configurations and operating conditions will be compliant: two stage mesophilic acid phase followed by thermophilic methane phase at 52°C and 62°C.

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