In this study, a full-scale survey was conducted of a sludge landfill that had been sealed for 10 years to investigate sludge properties, leachate characteristics and microbial community structure. Vertical distribution of sludge and leachate pollutants in the landfill site showed that the sludge and soluble pollutants in the leachate were both distributed almost evenly even after long-term anaerobic digestion, and higher concentrations of soluble pollutants and richness of microbial community were observed at the middle layer. Compared to dewatered excess sludge generated from the activated sludge process before landfill, landfill sludge had a much lower organic content (28.1%), smaller particle size and worse dewaterability. Compared to municipal waste landfill, sludge landfill generated leachate with a lower concentration of organic substances, and comparable concentrations of nitrogenous and phosphorus pollutants. Bacterial community analysis by Illumina MiSeq sequencing showed that Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, Chloroflexi, Actinobacteria and Bacteroidetes were the major phyla, and some new genera (Methylocystaceae, Mariniphaga and Aminicenantes) were enriched in the sludge landfill. Archaeal community analysis showed that aceticlastic methanogenesis by Methanosaeta and Methanosarcina was the main pathway for methane production in the sludge landfill, in contrast to waste landfill with hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis as the main pathway.

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