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Title: Pressurissed carbon dioxide as a means of sanitising sewage sludge and improving biogas production
Author: Mushtaq, Maryam
ISNI:       0000 0004 2743 3965
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2013
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The research reports on the potential for CO2 pressurisation as a means of enhancing biogas production in the anaerobic digestion of co-settled sewage sludge, a technique reported in the commercial literature as showing great benefits. The possibility of using this technique to reduce the number of faecal indicator bacteria is also explored, as an alternative means of complying with the UK water industry's Safe Sludge Matrix. Initial research using pure cultures of both E. coli (a strain isolated from sewage sludge) and Salmonella enterica showed that the results from different methods for isolating, recovering, resuscitating and enumerating E. coli were comparable. Further testing using heat stressed and unstressed E. coli showed the advantages of resuscitation and the MPN technique with 2-stage incubation was therefore used in the experiments to maximise the recovery of damaged but viable cells. The results for pure cultures showed conclusively that under the conditions of time and pressure used CO2 pressurisation and rapid depressurisation could cause irreversible cell damage and loss of viability in both test strains. The effect was reproducible and a time-pressure relationship was established for the apparatus used. It was shown, however, that the sanitising effect was influenced by culture volume, probably as this affected mass transfer of CO2 and hence its penetration into the cells. This finding may limit the practical application of the approach and further work is needed to establish design parameters and develop reactor systems to overcome this issue. Even under the favourable conditions used, exposure times required for 6 log reduction were too long for commercial application. Optimisation of the pressurisation vessel design may improve this and should be a focus of any future investigations. Batch and semi-continuous anaerobic digestion tests with co-settled sewage sludge were carried out to ascertain the effect of pressurised CO2 treatment on biogas production. These showed conclusively that the treatment did not improve either biogas productivity or specific methane yield. Experimental work also showed that even treatment conditions which gave an 8 log reduction in E. coli in pure culture were ineffective in reducing the number of indigenous E. coli in the sludge, or of S. enterica when added to a sewage sludge matrix. These findings led to further investigation of the effects of the size of pressure vessel and sample used. The results showed that this was an important factor, but could not fully explain the lack of performance in comparison with pure culture. It was concluded that the sludge matrix itself must play a role in protecting the microbial consortia from the effects of pressurised CO2. The exact reasons for this were not discovered but may be due to the effect of dissolved compounds present in the sludge and/or the structure and nature of the sludge flocs themselves.
Supervisor: Banks, Charles Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: GE Environmental Sciences ; TD Environmental technology. Sanitary engineering