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Title: Anaerobic ponds for domestic wastewater treatment in temperate climates
Author: Cruddas, Peter
ISNI:       0000 0004 5368 2746
Awarding Body: Cranfield University
Current Institution: Cranfield University
Date of Award: 2014
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Energy demand, greenhouse gas emissions, and operational costs are continuing to rise year on year in the wastewater treatment sector, with traditional treatment options unable to provide sustainable solutions to increasing volumes and tightening quality standards. Current processes produce inherent fugitive greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, whilst also generating large quantities of sludge for disposal. Anaerobic ponds (APs) are natural wastewater treatment processes that have traditionally been confined to a pre-treatment stage of larger stabilisation pond systems. Consequently, current standard guidelines are not suited for low temperature, weak strength wastewaters, or for the emerging usage of APs for energy recovery and enhanced organic breakdown. To establish effective guidelines for adapting AP design for this purpose, this thesis explores the fundamental mechanisms with APs, in order to provide design alterations to enhance AP performance for full flow domestic wastewater treatment with a focus on the UK water sector. Initially, a literature review of current AP design guidelines was conducted to determine the current state of the art and understand the fundamental design processes currently adopted. The review found that most APs are currently underloaded, largely to avoid malodour emissions, but this leads to unnecessarily large footprints and inhibits the digestion process through restricting biomass/substrate contact. It was concluded that the current design guidelines are not suitable for recent AP developments and application, such as covering to prevent odour escape, and the use of baffling to improve mixing and enhance organic degradation. A pilot scale study was conducted on UK domestic wastewater to gain insight into the limitations of current AP design for this application and identify areas for optimisation. The pilot trial demonstrated the efficacy of AP usage for low temperature, weak strength wastewaters, even with unoptimised design. Decoupling hydraulic and solids retention time lead to biomass retention and subsequent acclimatisation, and was able to compensate for the low temperatures and weak wastewater. It was concluded that APs can provide an attractive alternative to current primary treatment options, through reducing GHG emissions and providing less frequent desludging requirements. To optimise AP design, the effect of baffle configuration on AP hydrodynamics and the subsequent impact on treatment efficiency was investigated, in order to develop structural designs specifically targeting enhanced anaerobic degradation. Advantages found in baffling APs included improving mixing patterns between baffles, enhancing biomass/substrate contact, and creating an overall plug flow effect through the entire pond enabling the retention of biomass. Furthermore, the removal mechanism with the pond can be manipulated with use of baffles, with different orientations generating different flow patterns and therefore creating conditions preferential for greater solids settlement and capture, or mixing and contact. Following trials on single stage alternate baffling configurations, the development of a novel two stage AP design was trialled, applying knowledge gained from trials of differing baffle orientations to target separate stages of organic breakdown. Further trials were conducted on the staged AP to establish optimal loading rates to be applied to APs in order to maximise performance and reduce physical footprint. These trials led to recommended design improvements including shorter hydraulic retention times (HRTs) to enhance mixing and decrease physical footprint, and improvements to the staged AP design to greater separate the stages of anaerobic digestion and provide optimal conditions for the stages at different points in the AP. Finally, the knowledge gained from experimental work was used to present evidence for the inclusion of APs into decentralised WWT through flowsheet modelling of a proposed AP treatment works compared to a current base case. Advantages were found in decreasing sludge management requirements whilst providing suitable primary treatment, with additional potential benefits in renewable energy generation, which could increase both with improved biogas yields and the option of combining with other renewable technologies. In some circumstances, it may be possible for an AP flowsheet to operate entirely off-grid, eliminating the need for costly infrastructure such as permanent access roads and national electrical grid connection.
Supervisor: McAdam, Ewan; Cartmell, Elise Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Waste stabilisation lagoons ; methane ; biogas ; sludge ; decentralised works