A new process configuration combining anaerobic digestion with ozonation, and operated at long SRT, was studied with the objective of on-site reduction in sludge quantity and improving biogas recovery. The process performance with respect to solid reduction efficiency and other important process parameters like accumulation of inorganic solids, changes in sludge viscosity and dewatering characteristics were evaluated from the data of long term pilot scale continuous experiments conducted using a mixture of primary and secondary municipal sewage sludge. Due to sludge ozonation and long SRT, high VSS degradation efficiency of approximately 80% was achieved at a reactor solid concentration of 6.5%. A high fraction of inorganic solid (>50%) consisting mainly of acid insoluble and iron compounds was found to accumulate in the reactor. The high inorganic content accumulated in the digested sludge did not, however, contribute to the observed increase in sludge viscosity at high solid concentration. The sludge viscosity was largely found to depend on the organic solid concentration rather than the total solid content. Moreover, higher inorganic content in the digested sludge resulted in better sludge dewaterability. For a quick assessment of the economic feasibility of the new process, an economic index based on the unit cost of digested sludge disposal to unit electric cost is proposed.

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