Effects of pretreatment on the anaerobic digestion of waste activated sludge (WAS) were investigated in terms of VSS solubilization and methane production by batch experiments. The methods of pretreatment studied are NaOH addition (chemical), heating (thermal) and heating with NaOH addition (thermochemical) to the domestic WAS and to the combined WAS from domestic, commercial and industrial wastewaters. The thermochemical pretreatment gave the best result among three methods in the combined WAS, i.e., the VSS was solubilized by 40-50% and the methane production increased by more than 200% over the control when the WAS was heated at 130°C for 5 minutes with the dose 0.3 g NaOH/g VSS. In the domestic WAS, the VSS solubilization rate was 70-80% but the increase of the methane production was about 30% after thermochemically pretreated. The domestic WAS consists of 41% protein, 25% lipid and 14% carbohydrate on COD basis, and the solubilization rate of protein, which is the largest constituent of the WAS, was 63% in the thermochemical pretreatment. Although the effect of the thermochemical pretreatment on the methane production was higher to the combined WAS than to the domestic WAS, the methane production rate was 21.9 ml CH4/g VSSWAS·day in the domestic WAS and 12.8 ml CH4/g VSSWAS·day in the combined WAS.

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