With new EC regulations, alternative treatment and disposal techniques of the excess sludge produced by activated sludge wastewater treatment plants have to be developed. To decrease activated sludge production yield, microbial cell lysis can be amplified to enhance cryptic growth (biomass growth on lysates). Cell breakage techniques (thermal, alkaline and a combination) were studied to generate Ralstonia eutropha (strain model) and waste activated sludge lysates and to evaluate their biodegradability. Gentle treatment conditions by alkaline waste treatment (20 min at 60°C and pH 10 by NaOH addition) allowed waste activated sludge to be solubilized by a two step process (instantaneous and post-treatment) giving a dissolved organic carbon released by the total suspended solids treated of 267 mgDOC.g-1TSS. The biodegradation of the soluble fraction of the lysates by fresh sludge reached 75 and 90% after 48 and 350 hrs of incubation respectively. A validation on a laboratory scale by insertion of a liquor alkaline heat treatment loop in a biological synthetic wastewater treatment process was carried out. A reduction of 37% of the excess sludge was obtained without altering the purification yield of the process.

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