Wastewater treatment facilities produce large amounts of sludge, which is a pollutant to the environment if not properly managed. Among the three most common methods (landfills, land application, incineration) of sludge disposal, thermophilic digestion to produce Class-A biosolids for land application is recognized as the most cost-effective, environmentally sustainable option. Full-scale experience revealed that thermophilically digested biosolids consumed a higher dosage of chemicals for conditioning and dewatering than conventionally (mesophilically) digested biosolids. This paper presents findings of a recent study to investigate how major operational parameters affect dewatering properties of thermophilically digested biosolids, and to search for the inter-relationship between digestion, characteristics of digested biosolids, and dewatering properties of thermophilic biosolids. Experimental work was carried out using bench-scale aerobic digesters. This study found that feed sludge composition has a significant effect on dewaterability. A higher content of secondary sludge resulted in poorer dewaterability in undigested and digested sludge. Dewatering properties are sensitive to a temperature effect. Such an effect is physical-chemical in nature. Excessive high shear results in significant deterioration in dewaterability. Thermophilic digestion resulted in a substantial increase in ammonia and phosphate concentrations, but these two factors seem to not have much impact on dewaterability. Instead, cellular biopolymers have a significant role in affecting dewatering properties of thermophilically digested biosolids.

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