Optimising in-vessel anaerobic digestion technology

Red meat slaughterhouses can generate volumes of wastewater rich in both organic contaminants and nutrients and can therefore be strong candidates for treatment processes aimed at recovery of energy and/or nutrient resources. The focus of this project was to continue development, optimisation and integration of anaerobic membrane bioreactors (AnMBRs) as a high rate in-vessel anaerobic technology for recovery of energy from slaughterhouse wastes, and struvite crystallisation for low cost recovery of phosphorous (and nitrogen) from slaughterhouse wastes. This project builds on previous research and investment by AMPC and leverages significant investment and expertise from other Australian industries.

AnMBRs are an alternative to existing covered anaerobic lagoon (CAL) processes with much higher volumetric loading rates (10-100x larger) and advantages of improved effluent quality, improved gas capture, reduced odour and the potential to manipulate operational conditions for optimal nutrient recovery. However, there is very little information on AMBR design/design methodologies or operation on abattoir wastewater. This increases the risk for industry. UQ and AMPC research projects have now operated AnMBR pilot plants at 2 locations and achieved sustainable organic loading rates of 3-4 kgCOD.m-3.d-1. This is an order of magnitude higher than the anaerobic lagoons at the host sites.