Continuous experiments were conducted to study the hydrolysis and acidogenesis of sewage sludge in an upflow reactor with an agitator and a gas-liquid-solid separator. Results of this study showed that 34-78% of volatile suspended solids (VSS) in sewage sludge was hydrolyzed at pH in the range 4.0-6.5, 35°C and 4-24 hours of hydraulic retention time (HRT). About 31-65% of carbohydrate in sewage sludge, 20-45% of protein and 14-24% of lipid were acidified in this reactor. Hydrogen production was favored in lower pH and HRT, whereas methane production was encouraged at higher pH and HRT. Acetate, propionate, butyrate, and i-butyrate were the main aqueous acidogenic products. The distribution of these compounds in the effluent was more sensitive to pH, but was less sensitive to HRT. The maximum specific COD solubilization rate and specific volatile fatty acids production rate were 126 mg-COD/g-VSS·d and 102 mg-VFA/g-VSS·d, respectively. Compared with a CSTR, this modified upflow reactor was shown to be a more promising biosystem for the hydrolysis and acidogenesis of sewage sludge.

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