Investigation of the role of flocculation conditions in recuperative thickening on dewatering performance and biogas production
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There is considerable interest in recuperative thickening (RT), the recycling of partially digested solids in an anaerobic digester outlet stream back into the incoming feed, as a 'high-performance' process to increase biogas production, increase system capacity, and improve biosolids stabilization. While polymer flocculation is commonly used in full-scale RT operations, no studies have investigated the effect of flocculation conditions on RT process performance. Our goal was to investigate the effect of polymer type and dosage conditions on dewatering performance and biogas production in a lab-scale RT system. The type of polymer flocculant significantly affected dewatering performance. For example, the 440 LH polymer (low molecular weight (MW) polyacrylamide) demonstrated lower capillary suction time (CST) and filtrate total suspended solids (TSS) values than the C-6267 polymer (high MW polyacrylamide). An examination of the dewatering performance of RT digesters with different polymers found a strong correlation between CST and filtrate TSS. The type of polymer flocculant had no significant effect on biogas productivity or composition; the methane content was greater than 60% in good agreement with typical results. The optimization of the polymer flocculation conditions is a critical task for which the lab-scale RT system used in this work is ideally suited.
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