Controlled experiment contradicts the apparent benefits of the Fenton reaction during anaerobic digestion at a municipal wastewater treatment plant.

Research paper by Ahmet E AE Uman, Joseph G JG Usack, José L JL Lozano, Largus T LT Angenent

Indexed on: 20 Dec '18Published on: 20 Dec '18Published in: Water science and technology : a journal of the International Association on Water Pollution Research


A previous study had reported that the Fenton reaction at full scale increased the digestibility of thickened sludge in a digester. The authors of the study had observed a positive effect on biogas productivity, but without a control. Here, we evaluated this result by investigating the anaerobic treatment characteristics of fresh, thickened sludge in an experimental design with a control. To accomplish this, two identical continuously stirred anaerobic digesters (CSADs) were operated in parallel at mesophilic conditions. We also included anaerobic settlers to mimic the full-scale plant and to accomplish sludge recycling. We fed fresh, thickened sludge to both setups once every other day, but performed the Fenton reaction with only the experimental system by adding HO to the recycled biosolids from the anaerobic settler. We observed very large fluctuations in biogas production due to ever-changing characteristics of the thickened sludge both on a daily and seasonal basis. Regardless, the two setups performed almost identically with: 1) chemical oxygen demand removal efficiencies of 63.8 ± 2.9% and 62.1 ± 3.2%; and 2) biogas productivities of 0.280 and 0.279 L CH·g volatile solids for the experimental (with Fenton) and control (without Fenton) CSADs, respectively. These results indicate that the use of a Fenton reaction did not affect biogas productivities.