The role of iron addition to sewage sludge prior to anaerobic digestion was evaluated to determine the effect of iron on digestion performance and generation of odor-causing compounds. Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and volatile organic sulfur compounds (VOSCs) were the odorous gases evaluated in this study. Samples were obtained from seven municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), and batch anaerobic digestion tests were conducted using primary and secondary sludges at 30 day solids retention time (SRT) under mesophilic conditions. Volatile solid removal (VSR) was highly predictable with background iron concentrations measured in the combined sludge. They were likely to increase as influent iron content increased. 1.25% w/w ferric chloride (FeCl3) was added to the anaerobic digester feed in order to simulate iron addition for sulfide control in full-scale WWTPs. The results showed that it had a positive impact on digestion performance with higher VSR and odor control with reduced H2S and TVOSCs in the headspace gas of dewatered biosolids considered in the tests. Ferric chloride is considered a beneficial additive as a strategy for an odor mitigation, not to mention more efficient digestion under anaerobic conditions.

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