The efficiency of volatile fatty acid (VFA) production in a thermophilic aerobic digester (TAD) process using primary sludge was studied under two oxygenation states and detentions times ranging from 12 to 24 hours. The highest VFA concentration increase occurred in the 18 hour anaerobic aerated digester (O2 flow rate: 0.025 m3/m3·h; ORP: less than -300 mV) from 0.047 mg HAc/mg VSS in the feed to 0.106 mg HAc/mg VSS in the effluent. The anoxic condition (O2 flow rate: 0.14 m3/m3·h; ORP: between 0 to -225 mV) resulted in VFA utilisation and a final concentration of only 0.001 mg HAc/mg VSS. Under the anaerobic aerated condition, acetic acid constituted the largest fraction of short chain volatile fatty acids at an average of 60.4% and propionic trailed at 19.3%. The fraction of butyric and valeric acids were 12.2% and 8.1% respectively. It was found that with a decreasing oxygen supply and a decreasing detention time (HRT), the soluble organic carbon to ammonia ratio (SOC:NH3) increased.

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