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Water Res. 2013 Sep 1;47(13):4576-84. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2013.05.012. Epub 2013 May 16.

Improved bioproduction of short-chain fatty acids from waste activated sludge by perennial ryegrass addition.

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  • 1State Key Laboratory of Pollution Control and Resources Reuse, School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Tongji University, 1239 Siping Road, Shanghai 200092, China.


To improve short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) production from waste activated sludge (WAS), studies that focus on pre-treatment methods, pH control or adding extra carbon like rice were reported. In this study, a kind of green waste (perennial ryegrass) was used as carbon source to adjust carbon to nitrogen ratio (C/N) in WAS to enhance SCFAs production. The effects of different C/N ratio ranging from 26/1 to 7/1 on SCFAs production and cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin consumption were investigated in detail. It was observed that the maximal SCFAs yield was 368.71 g COD per kilogram of total solids (TS) at C/N 20/1 with fermentation time of 12 d, which was, respectively, over 4 and 12 times than that at C/N 26/1 (sole perennial ryegrass) and C/N 7/1 (sole WAS). Meanwhile, cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin consumptions were 109.12, 148.74, 20.90 g COD/kg TS, respectively, at C/N 20/1 with fermentation time of 12 d. The analysis of the composition of SCFAs showed that acetic acid ranked the first among other acids from C/N ratio of 26/1 to 18/1, whereas propionic acid was the dominant product from C/N ratio of 16/1 to 7/1. Because the results of this study were different from previous studies of SCFAs generation, the mechanism of improved SCFAs at C/N ratio of 20/1 by perennial ryegrass addition was investigated. Results showed that as soluble COD, soluble protein and soluble carbohydrate increased, more substrates were available for SCFAs production at C/N ratio of 20/1. In addition, with the drop of pH to 4.82, methane generating was inhabitant and the SCFAs production was therefore significantly enhanced. Additionally, the mechanism of improved SCFAs generation was analyzed from the view of enzyme activities and microbial community. The experiments revealed that at C/N ratio of 20/1 the activities of enzymes were the highest comparing with other C/N ratios and lignin was the rate-limiting steps in WAS anaerobic digestion by perennial ryegrass addition. The 16S rRNA gene clone library demonstrated that Clostridia, Spirochaetes, and Bacteroidetes were the dominant microbial community at C/N ratio of 20/1.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Anaerobic digestion; C/N ratio; Short-chain fatty acids; Waste activated sludge

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