Anaerobic Co-digestion of Urban Sewage Sludge with Agricultural Biomass


Three different types of urban sewage sludges (the mixed sludge, the dewatered secondary sludge and the sludge filtered by screens) were used for individual anaerobic digestion and co-digestion with agricultural biomass. The initial TS level (4%) and substrate to inoculum ratio (3:1) were maintained into all runs at mesophilic conditions, and the co-substrates was mixed at the recommended VS ratio of 1:1 (sludge: straw under the co-digestion conditions. It was found that the mixed sludge exhibited prominent anaerobic digestion performance, selected as a potential reagent for the co-digestion with biomass. The total volume of the produced methane from co-digestion of the mixed sludge and wheat stalk reached to 187.01 ± 3.27 mL g−1 VSadded, which was about 1.52 times higher than that from the individual digestion of the sludge. The experimental value of methane yield from co-digestion of the mixed sludge with wheat stalk is about 9.46% more than that of the estimated value, imply the enhanced interactions between the sludge and biomass during the co-digestion process. The pH of the co-digestion system of the mixed sludge and the wheat stalk was maintained at a relevant stable value around 6.50. It indicated that the buffering capacity of the digestion system could improved by adding the mixed sludge. The modified Gompertz model and the first-order kinetic model were proposed to simulate the co-digestion process between the mixed sludge and agricultural straw. The estimated kinetic parameters indicated that the maximum releasing rate of methane was significantly increased during the co-digestion process.

Graphic Abstract

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8


  1. 1.

    Zhou, A., Du, J., Varrone, C., Wang, Y., Wang, A., Liu, W.: VFAs bioproduction from waste activated sludge by coupling pretreatments with Agaricus bisporus substrates conditioning. Process. Biochem. 49, 283–289 (2014)

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Li, Z., Chen, Z., Ye, H., Wang, Y., Luo, W., Chang, J., Li, Q., He, N.: Anaerobic co-digestion of sewage sludge and food waste for hydrogen and VFA production with microbial community analysis. Waste Manag. 78, 789–799 (2018)

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Deng, Y., Zhang, B., Du, L., Tang, Z., Li, Q., Zhou, Z., Yin, X.: Improving methane production during the anaerobic digestion of waste activated sludge: cao-ultrasonic pretreatment and using different seed sludges. Procedia Environ. Sci. 31, 743–752 (2016)

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Zahan, Z., Othman, M.Z., Rajendram, W.: Rajendram, Anaerobic codigestion of municipal wastewater treatment plant sludge with food waste: a case study. Biomed. Res. Int. 2016, 1–13 (2018)

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Chen, X., Yuan, H., Zou, D., Liu, Y., Zhu, B., Chufo, A., Jaffar, M., Li, X.: Improving biomethane yield by controlling fermentation type of acidogenic phase in two-phase anaerobic co-digestion of food waste and rice straw. Chem. Eng. J. 273, 254–260 (2015)

    Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Rubia, M.A.D.L., Perez, M., Romero, L.I., Sales, D.: Effect of solids retention time (SRT) on pilot scale anaerobic thermophilic sludge digestion. Process. Biochem. 41, 79–86 (2006)

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Cieślik, B.M., Namieśnik, J., Konieczka, P.: Review of sewage sludge management: standards, regulations and analytical methods. J. Clean. Prod. 90, 1–15 (2015)

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Zhen, G., Lu, X., Kobayashi, T., Li, Y.Y., Xu, K., Zhao, Y.: Mesophilic anaerobic co-digestion of waste activated sludge and Egeria densa: performance assessment and kinetic analysis. Appl. Energy 148, 78–86 (2015)

    Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Liu, C., Li, H., Zhang, Y., Liu, C.: Improve biogas production from low-organic-content sludge through high-solids anaerobic co-digestion with food waste. Bioresour. Technol. 219, 252–260 (2016)

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Zou, H., Chen, Y., Shi, J., Zhao, T., Yu, Q., Yu, S., Shi, D., Chai, H., Gu, L., He, Q., Ai, H.: Mesophilic anaerobic co-digestion of residual sludge with different lignocellulosic wastes in the batch digester. Bioresour. Technol. 268, 371–381 (2018)

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Lin, L., Xu, F., Ge, X., Li, Y.: Improving the sustainability of organic waste management practices in the food-energy-water nexus: a comparative review of anaerobic digestion and composting. Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev. 89, 151–167 (2018)

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Alemahdi, N., Che Man, H., Abd Rahman, N., Nasirian, N., Yang, Y.: Enhanced mesophilic bio-hydrogen production of raw rice straw and activated sewage sludge by co-digestion. Int. J. Hydrog. Energy 40, 16033–16044 (2015)

    Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Tufaner, F., Avşar, Y.: Effects of co-substrate on biogas production from cattle manure: a review. Int. J. Environ. Sci. Technol. 13, 2303–2312 (2016)

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    McCabe, B.K., Hamawand, I., Baillie, C.: Investigating wastewater modelling as a tool to predict anaerobic decomposition and biogas yield of abattoir effluent. J. Environ. Chem. Eng. 1, 1375–1379 (2013)

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Zhou, Q., Shen, F., Yuan, H., Zou, D., Liu, Y., Zhu, B., Jaffu, M., Chufo, A., Li, X.: Minimizing asynchronism to improve the performances of anaerobic co-digestion of food waste and corn stover. Bioresour. Technol. 166, 31–36 (2014)

    Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Kim, J., Kang, C.M.: Increased anaerobic production of methane by co-digestion of sludge with microalgal biomass and food waste leachate. Bioresour. Technol. 189, 409–412 (2015)

    Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Rao, P.V., Baral, S.S.: Experimental design of mixture for the anaerobic co-digestion of sewage sludge. Chem. Eng. J. 172, 977–986 (2011)

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Sosnowski, P., Wieczorek, A., Ledakowicz, S.: Anaerobic co-digestion of sewage sludge and organic fraction of municipal solid wastes. Adv. Environ. Res. 7, 609–616 (2003)

    Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Wang, X., Yang, G., Feng, Y., Ren, G., Han, X.: Optimizing feeding composition and carbon–nitrogen ratios for improved methane yield during anaerobic co-digestion of dairy, chicken manure and wheat straw. Bioresour. Technol. 120, 78–83 (2012)

    Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Abudi, Z.N., Hu, Z., Sun, N., Xiao, B., Rajaa, N., Liu, C., Guo, D.: Batch anaerobic co-digestion of OFMSW (organic fraction of municipal solid waste), TWAS (thickened waste activated sludge) and RS (rice straw): Influence of TWAS and RS pretreatment and mixing ratio. Energy 107, 131–140 (2016)

    Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Zhao, M.X., Wang, Y.H., Zhang, C.M., Li, S.Z., Huang, Z.X., Wenquan, R.: Synergistic and pretreatment effect on anaerobic co-digestion from rice straw and municipal sewage sludge. BioResour. 9, 5871–5882 (2014)

    Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Komatsu, T., Kudo, K., Himeno, S.: Anaerobic co-digestion of sewage sludge and enzyme pretreated rice straw. J. Japan Sew. Works Assoc. 44, 139–150 (2007)

    Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Raheem, A., Sikarwar, V.S., He, J., Dastyar, W., Dionysiou, D.D., Wang, W., Zhao, M.: Opportunities and challenges in sustainable treatment and resource reuse of sewage sludge: a review. Chem. Eng. J. 337, 616–641 (2018)

    Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Luostarinen, S., Luste, S., Sillanp, M.: Increased biogas production at wastewater treatment plants through co-digestion of sewage sludge with grease trap sludge from a meat processing plant. Bioresour. Technol. 100, 79–85 (2009)

    Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Kim, M., Chowdhury, M.M.I., Nakhla, G., Keleman, M.: Synergism of co-digestion of food wastes with municipal wastewater treatment biosolids. Waste Manag. 61, 473–483 (2017)

    Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Walter, W.: APHA standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater. Am. J. Public Health Nations Health 51, 940 (1961)

    Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Rahman, M.A., Møller, H.B., Saha, C.K., Alam, M.M., Wahid, R., Feng, L.: Anaerobic co-digestion of poultry droppings and briquetted wheat straw at mesophilic and thermophilic conditions: influence of alkali pretreatment. Renew. Energy 128, 241–249 (2018)

    Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Kang, X., Sun, Y., Li, L., Kong, X., Yuan, Z.: Improving methane production from anaerobic digestion of Pennisetum Hybrid by alkaline pretreatment. Bioresour. Technol. 255, 205 (2017)

    Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Prajapati, K.B., Singh, R.: Kinetic modelling of methane production during bio-electrolysis from anaerobic co-digestion of sewage sludge and food waste. Bioresour. Technol. 263, 491–498 (2018)

    Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Li, X., Li, L., Zheng, M., Fu, G., Lar, J.S.: Anaerobic co-digestion of cattle manure with corn stover pretreated by sodium hydroxide for efficient biogas production. Energy Fuel 23, 4635–4639 (2009)

    Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Elsayed, M., Andres, Y., Blel, W., Gad, A.: Methane production by anaerobic co-digestion of sewage sludge and wheat straw under mesophilic conditions. Int. J. Sci. Technol. Res. 4, 6 (2016)

    Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Bayr, S., Rintala, J.: Thermophilic anaerobic digestion of pulp and paper mill primary sludge and co-digestion of primary and secondary sludge. Water Res. 46, 4713–4720 (2012)

    Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Zhang, J., Lv, C., Tong, J., Liu, J., Liu, J., Yu, D., Wang, Y., Chen, M., Wei, Y.: Optimization and microbial community analysis of anaerobic co-digestion of food waste and sewage sludge based on microwave pretreatment. Bioresour. Technol. 200, 253–261 (2016)

    Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Tufaner, F., Avşar, Y., Gönüllü, M.T.: Modeling of biogas production from cattle manure with co-digestion of different organic wastes using an artificial neural network. Clean Technol. Environ. 19, 2255–2264 (2017)

    Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Argun, H., Kargi, F., Kapdan, I.K., Oztekin, R.: Biohydrogen production by dark fermentation of wheat powder solution: effects of C/N and C/P ratio on hydrogen yield and formation rate. Int. J. Hydrog. Energy 33, 1813–1819 (2008)

    Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Hassan, M., Ding, W., Shi, Z., Zhao, S.: Methane enhancement through co-digestion of chicken manure and thermo-oxidative cleaved wheat straw with waste activated sludge: a C/N optimization case. Bioresour. Technol. 211, 534–541 (2016)

    Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Croce, S., Wei, Q., D'Imporzano, G., Dong, R., Adani, F.: Anaerobic digestion of straw and corn stover: the effect of biological process optimization and pre-treatment on total bio-methane yield and energy performance. Biotechnol. Adv. 34, 1289–1304 (2016)

    Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Chen, G., Zheng, Z., Yang, S., Fang, C., Zou, X., Luo, Y.: Experimental co-digestion of corn stalk and vermicompost to improve biogas production. Waste Manag. 30, 1834–1840 (2010)

    Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Anderson, G.K., Yang, G.: Determination of bicarbonate and total volatile acid concentration in anaerobic digesters using a simple titration. Water Environ. Res. 64, 53–59 (1992)

    Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Xie, S., Wickham, R., Long, D.N.: Synergistic effect from anaerobic co-digestion of sewage sludge and organic wastes. Int. Biodeterior. Biodegrad. 116, 191–197 (2017)

    Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Borowski, S., Weatherley, L.: Co-digestion of solid poultry manure with municipal sewage sludge. Bioresour. Technol. 142, 345–352 (2013)

    Google Scholar 

  42. 42.

    Li, Y., Zhang, R., Liu, X., Chen, C., Xiao, X., Feng, L., He, Y., Liu, G.: Evaluating methane production from anaerobic mono- and co-digestion of kitchen waste, corn stover, and chicken manure. Energy Fuel 27, 2085–2091 (2013)

    Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    Ajeej, A., Thanikal, J.V., Narayanan, C.M., Kumar, R.S.: An overview of bio augmentation of methane by anaerobic co-digestion of municipal sludge along with microalgae and waste paper. Renew. Sust. Energy Rev. 50, 270–276 (2015)

    Google Scholar 

  44. 44.

    Zhou, A., Guo, Z., Yang, C., Kong, F., Liu, W., Wang, A.: Volatile fatty acids productivity by anaerobic co-digesting waste activated sludge and corn straw: effect of feedstock proportion. J. Biotechnol. 168, 234–239 (2013)

    Google Scholar 

  45. 45.

    Hassan, M., Ding, W., Umar, M., Rasool, G.: Batch and semi-continuous anaerobic co-digestion of goose manure with alkali solubilized wheat straw: a case of carbon to nitrogen ratio and organic loading rate regression optimization. Bioresour. Technol. 230, 24–32 (2017)

    Google Scholar 

  46. 46.

    Maragkaki, A.E., Vasileiadis, I., Fountoulakis, M., Kyriakou, A., Lasaridi, K., Manios, T.: Improving biogas production from anaerobic co-digestion of sewage sludge with a thermal dried mixture of food waste, cheese whey and olive mill wastewater. Waste Manag. 71, 644–651 (2018)

    Google Scholar 

  47. 47.

    Wickham, R., Galway, B., Bustamante, H., Nghiem, L.D.: Biomethane potential evaluation of co-digestion of sewage sludge and organic wastes. Int. Biodeterior. Biodegrad. 113, 3–8 (2016)

    Google Scholar 

Download references


This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 51878145, 51676047 and 5181101221) and Key Project of Environmental Protection Research Program of Department of Ecology and Environment of Jiangsu Province, China (Grant No. 2017006), and Nanjing Science and Technology Planning Project of Nanjing Science and Technology Committee of Jiangsu Province, China (Grant No. 201716003).

Author information



Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Dekui Shen or Youzhou Jiao.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Li, P., He, C., Yu, R. et al. Anaerobic Co-digestion of Urban Sewage Sludge with Agricultural Biomass. Waste Biomass Valor 11, 6199–6209 (2020).

Download citation


  • Sewage sludge
  • Corn straw
  • Wheat stalk
  • Co-digestion
  • Methane