The disposal of sewage sludge and the agricultural use of stabilised sludge are decreasing due to more stringent regulations in Europe. An increasing fraction of sewage sludge must therefore be dewatered, dried, incinerated and the ashes disposed of in landfills. These processes are cost-intensive and also lead to the loss of valuable phosphate resources incorporated in the sludge ash. The implementation of processes that could reduce excess sludge production and recycle phosphate is therefore recommended. Disintegration of biological sludge by mechanical, thermal and physical methods could significantly reduce excess sludge production, improve the settling properties of the sludge and reduce bulking and scumming. The solubilised COD could also improve denitrification if the treated sludge is recycled to the anoxic zone. However, disintegration partly inhibits and kills nitrifiers and could therefore shorten their effective solid retention time, thus reducing the safety of the nitrification. This paper discusses the potential of disintegration on sludge reduction, the operating stability of nitrification, the improvement of denitrification and also presents an energy and cost evaluation.

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