Abstract

Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a proven technology for energy production from the stabilization and reduction of sewage waste. The AD and impact of ultrasonic pretreatment of four waste activated sludges (WASs) from conventional and three non-conventional municipal wastewater treatment plants were investigated. WAS from a conventional activated sludge (CAS) system, a rotating biological contactor (RBC), a lagoon, and a nitrifying moving-bed biofilm reactor (MBBR) were pretreated with ultrasonic energies of 800–6,550 kJ/kg total solids to illustrate the impact of sludge type and ultrasonic pretreatment on biogas production (BGP), solubilization, and digestion kinetics. The greatest increase in BGP over the control of pretreated sludge did not coincide consistently with greater sonication energy but occurred within a solubilization range of 2.9%–7.4% degree of disintegration and are as follows: 5% ± 3 biogas increase for CAS, 12% ± 9 for lagoon, 15% ± 2 for nitrifying MBBR, and 20% ± 2 for RBC. The effect of sonication on digestion kinetics was inconclusive with the application of modified Gompertz, reaction curve, and first-order models to biogas production. These results illustrate the unique response of differing sludges to the same levels of sonication energies.

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