Research Project Information

Research Project Summary Information

Improving the efficacy of anaerobic digestion using electrokinetic disintegration of biosolids(23138)

Columbia University


There are 145 wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) with anaerobic digesters in NYS. Insufficient payback is most often cited as a reason for not pursuing digester gas to electricity projects; increased biogas production from existing capacity would improve payback.

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Project Description

The goal of the project is to demonstrate a novel electrokinetic technology at the Onondaga County Syracuse Metro WWTP; electrokinetic disintegration (EKD). The EKD process uses very little electrical current and associated energy consumption is negligible. Biosolids produced by the WWTP will be thickened and conveyed to a pilot-scale EKD unit located at the WWTP. Three bench-scale anaerobic digesters will also be operated at the WWTP. The digesters will either be fed 1) thickened, electrokinetically disintegrated sludge, 2) thickened sludge collected prior to the EKD unit, or 3) sludge collected prior to thickening and the EKD unit. The objectives of the project are to determine the impact of thickening and EKD on 1) solids destruction and subsequent gas production during anaerobic digestion; and 2) on sludge rheology and dewatering capacity. The systems will be operated, monitored, and sampled for a period of nine (9) months. It is anticipated that it will take an additional three (3) months to install the digesters and achieve steady-state conditions within the reactors.


It is anticipated that application of thickening and EKD to biosolids prior to anaerobic digestion will result in enhanced cell lysis, improved solids destruction, improved biogas production (by as much as 20-30%), reduced pipe friction losses, improved digester mixing, and enhanced sludge dewatering (thus requiring fewer chemicals and less energy to prepare and convey the sludge for off-site disposal).

Project Results


Columbia University
Sponsored Projects Finance PO Box 29788
NEW YORK, NY 10087

Principle Investigator

Kartik Chandran

Universities Involved

Columbia University


Project Type:

Product Demonstration

Technologies Types:

Waste Management and Pollution Prevention
Water/Wastewater treatment systems

NYSERDA Contact Information

Kathleen O'Connor


R&D - Environment & Energy Res

Contract Details

Start Date: 3/20/2012
Project Status: Active
Contract Number: 23138

Last Updated: 2/7/2014 1