Economical source minimization of excess sludge production is an attractive option to deal with the problem of sludge disposal under strict disposal standards. In this paper long-term operational results for two different process configurations that combine oxidative ozone treatment with anaerobic sludge digestion are described. In the first configuration ozone pretreatment was combined with chemostat anaerobic digestion while in the second configuration ozone pre/post-treatments were combined with an anaerobic digester operated without solid removal. From the results of chemostat experiments, the ozone pretreatment solubilized around 19% and 37% of the solids at 0.015 and 0.05 gO3/gTS ozone dose respectively. The ozone pretreatment resulted in improved TVS reduction efficiencies and the degradation efficiencies were observed to depend on the applied ozone dose and system SRT. The TVS degradation efficiency for pre-ozonated sludge at an ozone dose of 0.05 gO3/gTS was 59% as compared to 31% for the control reactor fed with un-ozonated sludge. Test results with the second configuration indicated that overall TVS removal efficiencies for a process scheme with post-ozonation could be improved up to 85% with a minimum ozone dose of 0.045 gO3/gTVS-fed. However, since no solids (except that for sampling) were withdrawn in this configuration, the accumulated total solids in the reactors increased to 28 g/l to 30 g/l at pseudosteady state. The average specific methane recoveries were observed to be 0.36 l CH4/gTVS fed which were slightly lower than theoretically expected. Based on the experimental results, important points in the choice of process configuration are discussed.

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