Using a mathematical model, a resource recovery assessment was carried out at a pulp mill activated sludge wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) located in Uruguay. Through the evaluation of different scenarios, the potential production of methane from secondary sludge, with its inherent energy savings, and the recovery of phosphorus (P) as struvite were estimated. Considering the current WWTP configuration with a sludge retention time (SRT) of 32 days, and according to the model, which is a simplification of reality, the assessment indicates that the implementation of an anaerobic digester (AD) to treat the excess sludge can lead to a methane production of approximately 1736 m3 CH4 d−1, being a promising alternative to increase the WWTP treatment performance. Furthermore, the model predictions suggest that by shortening the SRT from 32 to 5 days, the methane production could increase by up to 5568 m3 CH4 d−1. If the methane produced is used to generate electrical energy to operate the WWTP, energy savings of about 88% can be achieved. Regarding the potential recovery of P as struvite, the addition of a struvite reactor could be an efficient option to recover approximately 1611 mg L−1 of struvite (corresponding to a load of about 433 kg d−1). By optimizing the process performance, these findings highlight the potential recovery of resources in pulp mill WWTP, while complying with stringent effluent discharge standards. In addition, further research activities such as pilot-test or detailed laboratory studies may be needed to validate the previous recommendations for industrial scale application.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109718
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • Biogas, Industrial wastewater, Phosphorus recovery, Pulp mill, Struvite

ID: 68381675