Increasing evidence is emerging that the performance of enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) systems relies on not only the total amount but also the composition of volatile fatty acids (VFAs). Domestic wastewater often contains limited amounts of VFAs with acetic acid typically being the dominating species. Consequently, prefermenters are often employed to generate additional VFAs to meet the demand for carbon by EBPR and/or denitrification processes. Limited knowledge is currently available on the effects of operational conditions on the production rate and composition of VFAs in prefermenters. In this study, a series of controlled batch experiments were conducted with sludge from a full-scale prefermenter to determine the impact of solids concentration, pH and addition of molasses on prefermentation processes. It was found that an increase in solids concentration enhanced total VFA production with an increased propionic acid fraction. The optimal pH for prefermentation was in the range of 6–7 with significant productivity loss when pH was below 5.5. Molasses addition significantly increased the production of VFAs particularly the propionic acid. However, the fermentation rate was likely limited by the biological activity of the sludge rather than by the amount of molasses added.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.