Anaerobic digestion is the only energy-positive technology widely used in wastewater treatment. Full-scale data prove that the anaerobic digestion of sewage sludge can produce biogas that covers a substantial amount of the energy consumption of a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). In this paper, we discuss possibilities for improving the digestion efficiency and biogas production from sewage sludge. Typical specific energy consumptions of municipal WWTPs per population equivalent are compared with the potential specific production of biogas to find the required/optimal digestion efficiency. Examples of technological measures to achieve such efficiency are presented. Our findings show that even a municipal WWTP with secondary biological treatment located in a moderate climate can come close to energy self-sufficiency. However, they also show that such self-sufficiency is dependent on: (i) the strict optimization of the total energy consumption of the plant, and (ii) an increase in the specific biogas production from sewage sludge to values around 600 L per kg of supplied volatile solids.

This content is only available as a PDF.