A series of completely mixed methanogenic anaerobic digesters have been operated to determine the rate of hydrolysis of primary sewage sludge. The hydraulic retention time was reduced from 60 d to when the system failed (∼5 d), while the feed COD concentration was 40, 25, 13 and 2 gCOD/L. A steady state model based on first order kinetics was developed to simulate the hydrolysis rate at each retention time and feed concentration. With the mean value for the hydrolysis rate constant (0.992±0.492 d−1), this model was able to accurately predict the effluent COD for all steady state operating conditions. However, the effluent COD concentration was relatively insensitive to the exact value for this constant. The model provides a framework for analysis of anaerobic digestion experimental data, to enable meaningful comparisons.

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