Lasaridi, K.;Maragkaki, A. E.;Fountoulakis, M.;Gypakis, A.;Kyriakou, A.;Manios, T.;
Due to low degradability of dry solids, most of the digesters at wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) operate at low loading rates resulting in poor biogas yields. In this study, co-digestion of sewage sludge (SS) with olive mill wastewater (OMW), cheese whey (CW) and crude glycerol (CG) was studied in an attempt to improve biogas production of existing digesters at WWTPs. The effect of agro-industrial by-products in biogas production was investigated using a 220 L pilot-scale (180 L working volume) digester under mesophilic conditions (35 degrees C) with a total feeding volume of 7.5 L daily and a 24-day hydraulic retention time. The initial feed was sewage sludge and the bioreactor was operated using this feed for 40 days. Each agro-industrial by-product was then added to the feed so that the reactor was fed continuously with 95% sewage sludge and 5% (v/v) of each examined agro-industrial by-product. The experiments showed that a 5% (v/v) addition of OMW, CG or CW to sewage sludge significantly increased biogas production by nearly 220%, 350% and 86% as values of 34.8 +/- 3.2 L/d, 185.7 +/- 15.3 L/d and 45.9 +/- 3.6 L/d respectively, compared to that with sewage sludge alone (375 ml daily, 5% v/v in the feed). The average removal of dissolved chemical oxygen demand (d-COD) ranged between 72 and 99% for organic loading rates between 0.9 and 1.5 kg VS m(-3) d(-1). Reduction in the volatile solids ranged between 25 and 40%. This work suggests that methane can be produced very efficiently by adding a small concentration (5%) of agro-industrial by-products and especially CG in the inlet of digesters treating sewage sludge. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.