UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Comparison of Different Electricity-Based Thermal Pretreatment Methods for Enhanced Bioenergy Production from Municipal Sludge Hosseini Koupaie, E.; Johnson, T.; Eskicioglu, C.


This paper presents results for a comprehensive study that compares the performance of three electricity-based thermal pretreatment methods for improving the effectiveness of anaerobic digestion (AD) to process municipal wastewater sludge. The study compares thermal pretreatment using conventional heating (CH), microwave (MW), and radio frequency (RF) heating techniques. The effectiveness of the pretreatment methods was assessed in terms of chemical oxygen demand (COD) and biopolymers solubilization, AD bioenergy production, input electrical energy, and overall net energy production of the sequential pretreatment/AD process. The heating applicators for the bench-scale testing consisted of a custom-built pressure-sealed heating vessel for CH experiments, an off-the-shelf programmable MW oven operating at a frequency of 2.45 GHz for MW heating experiments, and a newly developed 1 kW RF heating system operating at a frequency of 13.56 MHz for RF heating experiments. Under identical thermal profiles, all three thermal pretreatment methods achieved similar sludge disintegration in terms of COD and biopolymer solubilization as well as AD bioenergy production (p-value > 0.05). According to the energy assessment results, the application of CH and MW pretreatments resulted in overall negative energy production, while positive net energy production was obtained through the sequential pretreatment/AD process utilizing RF pretreatment.

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