The production of volatile fatty acids (VFA) by anaerobic fermentation of municipal solid wastes was studied at pilot-plant level. A plug-flow reactor (80 1 total volume) without solid or liquid recirculation was employed to digest a mixture of two types of organic fraction of the municipal solid waste (OFMSW): OFMSW mechanically selected and OFMSW coming from a market of fruit and vegetables. The acidogenic process was studied at different retention times (between 2 and 6 days) in the mesophilic (37° ± 2°C) range of temperature. The VFA concentration obtained in the first valve of the tubular reactor ranged from 9.1 to 13.4 g 1−1 and in the outlet sludge oscillated between 11.8 and 23.1 g 1−1, increasing when increasing retention time from 2 to 6 days. A mathematical model of a continuous steady state plug-flow reactor proposed in a previous paper was used to represent the VFA production obtained experimentally. The results obtained when fitting the mathematical model with the experimental results were not sufficiently good. Some modifications of the initial model were considered. The best fitting of the results was obtained when the inhibition effect of the fermentation product on microorganisms growth was taken into account. The errors of this fitting, calculated by least squares, can be considered optimal for retention times between 4 and 6 days, while at shorter retention times the inhibition effect of pH and product makes the volatile acid production lower than the values obtained experimentally.

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