Anaerobic hydrolysis in activated return sludge was investigated in laboratory scale experiments to find if intermittent aeration would accelerate anaerobic hydrolysis rates compared to anaerobic hydrolysis rates under strict anaerobic conditions. The intermittent reactors were set up in a 240 h experiment with intermittent aeration (3 h:3 h) in a period of 24 h followed by a subsequent anaerobic period of 24 h in a cycle of 48 h which was repeated five times during the experiment. The anaerobic reactors were kept under strict anaerobic conditions in the same period (240 h). Two methods for calculating hydrolysis rates based on soluble chemical oxygen demand were compared. Two-way analysis of variance with the Bonferroni post-test was performed in order to register any significant difference between reactors with intermittent aeration and strictly anaerobic conditions respectively. The experiment demonstrated a statistically significant difference in favor of the reactors with intermittent aeration showing a tendency towards accelerated anaerobic hydrolysis rates due to application of intermittent aeration. The conclusion of the work is thus that intermittent aeration applied in the activated return sludge process can improve the treatment capacity further in full scale applications.

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