Role of the composition of humic substances formed during thermal hydrolysis process on struvite precipitation in reject water from anaerobic digestion

Javier Pavez-Jara*, Widya P. Iswarani, Jules B. van Lier, Merle K. de Kreuk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Thermal hydrolysis process (THP) is a widely used pre-treatment method in the anaerobic digestion (AD) of waste municipal sewage sludge. A post AD dewatering step of the digestate produces a liquid stream called reject water. THP increases the concentration of humic substances (HSs) and nutrients in the produced reject water. Struvite precipitation is a widely used technique to remove and (potentially) recover PO43− -P and the corresponding amount of total ammoniacal nitrogen from reject water. The chemical characteristics of the THP-produced HSs influence reaction yields and morphology of struvite. In our current study, struvite batch precipitation experiments were conducted at different pHs, and different concentrations of HSs, consisting of either melanoidins or humic acids. Our results showed that at pH 6.5 struvite precipitation was severely retarded. However, increased concentrations of melanoidins at pH 6.5 enhanced struvite precipitation. Batch experiments conducted at pH 7.25 and 8 with increased melanoidins concentrations showed PO43−-P precipitation yields over 86 %. Humic acids negatively impacted struvite precipitation at all analysed pH values, presumably because of Mg2+ complexation. Morphological analysis showed that the presence of both HSs affected Feret diameters, aspect ratio, and cleavage pattern of struvite. Also, HSs rendered coloured crystals. Overall, our results showed that struvite precipitation is affected by HSs intrinsic characteristics, affecting yield, morphology, and colour of the formed precipitates.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104932
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Water Process Engineering
Volume59
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Keywords

  • Humic acid
  • Melanoidins
  • Phosphate recovery
  • Struvite
  • Thermal hydrolysis process

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