Overcapacities of anaerobic digesters at municipal WWTPs are frequently used for the treatment of organic wastes in order to increase the biogas production. However, “co-digestion” of organic wastes leads to additional nitrogen loading and to additional loads of non-biodegradable COD. The effects of (co-) digestion of organic wastes from agro-industries (slaughterhouses, dairies and leather industry) on the wastewater cycle have been evaluated in full-scale investigations at Leoben WWTP with a capacity of 90,000 pe where the methane production was increased from 700 to more than 1,700 Nm3 CH4 per day. For this evaluation, mass balances for COD and nitrogen have been applied to estimate the fluxes of these substances. Application of this method is described in detail. As the additional loadings, it was found that related to methane production less nitrogen is released from the organic wastes than from the waste sludge. While the ammonia nitrogen load in the effluent from sludge digestion was about 100 g NH4-N per Nm3 of CH4 produced, in the effluent from the digestion of organic wastes only 70 g NH4-N/Nm3 CH4 were found. The decrease in the COD removal efficiency after digestion of the organic wastes started was not regarded as significant enough to be seen as a consequence of the treatment of external substrate.

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