Although they differ greatly in origin complex waste(water)s mainly consist of proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and sometimes lignin in addition. Hydrolysis is the first and generally rate-limiting step in the process of anaerobic digestion of particulate organic substrates. Hydrolysis of particulate polymers can be described by Surface Based Kinetics, but for use in practice the empirical first order relation is advised. Unlike the hydrolysis of protein and carbohydrate, lipid hydrolysis is hardly occurring in the absence of methanogenesis. The latter is probably a physical rather than a biological process and affects the choice for either a one- or a two-step (phase) anaerobic reactor. In the chain of collection and transport, complex wastes often become complex wastewaters simply because of dilution. Dilution not only changes the reactor technology to be applied but also complicates the post-treatment and possibilities for resource recovery. Combining concentrated with diluted waste streams will almost always end up in much more complicated treatment technologies.

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