Ultrasound is the term used to describe sound energy at frequencies above 20 kHz. Highpowered ultrasound can be applied to a waste stream via purpose-designed tools in order to induce cavitation. This effect results in the rupture of cellular material and reduction of particle size in the waste stream, making the cells more amenable to downstream processing. sonixTM is a new technology utilising high-powered, concentrated ultrasound for conditioning sludges prior to further treatment. This paper presents recent results from a number of demonstration and full-scale plants treating thickened waste activated sludge (TWAS) prior to anaerobic digestion, therefore enhancing the process. The present studies have proved that the use of ultrasound to enhance anaerobic digestion can be achieved at full scale and effectively result in the TWAS (typically difficult to digest) behaving, after sonication, as if it were a “primary” sludge. The technology presents benefits in terms of increased biogas production, better solids reduction, improved dewatering characteristics of the digested sludge mixture and relatively short payback periods of two years or less subject to the site conditions and practices applicable at that time.

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