To lower energy consumption at a sewage treatment plant (STP), primary settling could be enhanced to direct more chemical oxygen demand (COD) to anaerobic digestion (AD) for increased biogas production and decreased aeration. Primary settling can be chemically enhanced by applying flocculation aids (FAs). FAs are refractory compounds that may affect all sludge treatment facilities. In this study the consequences are investigated of the application of FAs for chemically enhanced primary treatment (CEPT) on AD and subsequent dewatering of digested sludge in a conventional STP. It was found that FAs maintain their effect throughout all sludge processing facilities. With CEPT, more readily degradable solids were removed, resulting in a higher bio methane potential of the primary sludge. In AD, FAs lowered the viscosity; meanwhile an increased hydrolysis rate was observed. But FAs also partially irreversibly bound substrate in such way that it is not available for biological degradation anymore. In subsequent dewatering of digested sludge, a higher dry solids concentration was observed with CEPT. A computer simulation showed that in a conventional STP, CEPT would not be economically feasible. However, several benefits were discussed that can make CEPT an interesting option for future low COD/N-tolerant STPs with, for example, Anammox processes for N removal.

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