In this study, the effect of mixing on volatile fatty acid (VFA) production and composition was investigated through running five identical bench-scale reactors that were filled with primary solid and dosed with either pure glycerol or biodiesel waste. Experimental results revealed that there was an inverse correlation between the mixing intensity and the VFA production. The total VFA production in the un-mixed reactor was 9,787 ± 3,601 mg COD/L, whereas in the reactor mixed at 100 rpm this dropped to 3,927 ± 1,175 mg COD/L, while both types of reactor were dosed with pure glycerol at the beginning of each cycle to reach the initial concentration of 1,000 mg/L (1,217 mg COD/L). Propionic acid was the dominant VFA in all the reactors except the reactor mixed at 30 rpm. It is hypothesized that low mixing facilitated hydrogen transfer between obligate hydrogen producing acetogens (OHPA) and hydrogen consuming acidogens in these non-methanogenic reactors. Also, in a narrower range of mixing (0 or 7 rpm), the total VFA production in biodiesel waste-fed reactors was considerably higher than that of pure glycerol-fed reactors.

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