The paper will report about the experiences at an Austrian large wastewater treatment plant of 720,000 population equivalents, where anaerobically digested sewage sludge is further stabilised under aerobic conditions. Enhanced stabilisation of the anaerobically digested sludge was required at the plant in order to get a permit for landfill disposal of the dewatered stabilized sludge. By implementing a post-aeration treatment (SRT ∼ 6d; 36 °C) after anaerobic digestion the organic content of the anaerobically well digested sludge can be decreased by 16%. Investigations on site showed that during digested sludge post-aeration anoxic phases for denitrification are needed to provide stable process conditions. In this way the pH value can be kept in a more favourable range for micro-organisms and concrete structures. Additionally, inhibition of the biological process due to nitrite accumulation can be avoided. By optimising the aeration/pause ratio ∼ 45% of total nitrogen in digested sludge can be removed. This significantly improves nitrogen removal efficiency at the wastewater treatment plant. NH4-removal occurs mainly through nitritation and denitritation with an efficiency of 98%. The costs/benefit analysis shows that post-aeration of digested sludge results in an increase of total annual costs for wastewater treatment of only 0.84%, corresponding to 0.19 Euro/pe/a. Result of molecular biological analyses (DGGE) indicate that all four ammonium-oxidizing bacteria species present in activated sludge can survive anaerobic digestion, but only two of them can adapt in the digested sludge post-aeration tanks. Additionally, in the post-aerated digested sludge a further ammonium-oxidizing bacteria species was identified.

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