Mechanical disintegration can be used for an accelerated and improved anaerobic digestion of excess sludge. The hydrolysis is the limiting step of this process. Mechanical disintegration can be used to disrupt the cell walls and to cause the release of the organic material from the cells. Particle size analysis describes the size reduction but is not suitable for characterising the release of the organic material and the cell disruption. Two biochemical methods were developed for these phenomena. One of the parameters provides information about the disruption of micro-organisms, the other one gives information about the release of organic material.

Different ultrasonic homogenizers, a high pressure homogenizer and stirred ball mills were used for disintegration experiments using various parameters. The influences of a mechanical disintegration on the particle size and of the energy intensity on the disintegration were investigated. Further investigations had to detect the influence of the solid content on the disintegration results. For sludge with a higher solid content better results in terms of energy consumption could be achieved. An optimum of the bead diameter and the stress intensity in stirred ball mills could be detected. A comparison of the results of different methods of sludge disintegration shows that the investigated ultrasonic homogenizers are inferior to a high pressure homogenizer and a stirred ball mill in terms of energy consumption.

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