Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Major Professor

Sarina J. Ergas


Ammonia, Anaerobic Digestion, Biodegradable, Methane, SRT


Three continuously stirred tank reactors (CSTR) were operated in semi continuous mode treating swine waste using anaerobic digestion. The reactors were used to test the effect of solid retention time (SRT) on CH4 yield, total ammonia nitrogen (TAN) concentrations, % volatile solids (VS), chemical oxygen demand (COD) and volatile fatty acids (VFA) removal, readily biodegradable COD concentration and the denitrification potential for the effluent in a biological nutrient removal (BNR) system. During Phase I of the study, the three reactors were operated at the same 28 day SRT for 16 weeks. SRTs were then changed during the 12 week Phase II period. The SRTs studied were 14, 21 and 28 days, with the same organic loading rate (OLR) of 1.88 ± 0.2 kg VS/ m3-day. The reactor with the lowest SRT (14 days) had the highest VS and VFA removal at 73.6 and 67.6% and lowest TAN concentration at 0.78 g NH4+-N/L, followed by the 21 day and 28 day reactors. This was likely due to the fast microbial growth rates and substrate utilization rates in this reactor compared with the other two. The 14 day reactor had the highest CH4 yield at 0.33 m3CH4/kg VS added and readily biodegradable COD concentration at 0.93 COD/L. The variations in CH4 yield and readily biodegradable COD concentrations between the three reactors were not statistically significant. Denitrification potential for the reactors was 1.20, 0.73 and 0.56 g COD/g N for 14, 21 and 28 day reactors, respectively, and the differences were statistically significant. None of the reactors achieved a denitrification potential of 5 g COD/g N, the amount required to use effluent of anaerobically digested swine waste as an internal carbon source in a BNR. This was attributed to operating conditions such as freezing and thawing of the raw swine waste that maximized CH4 yield and lowered the readily biodegradable COD concentration. In addition the 14 day reactor had low TAN concentrations thus increasing the denitrification potential of the centrate from that reactor.