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Water Res. 2001 Jun;35(8):2003-9.

Ultrasonic waste activated sludge disintegration for improving anaerobic stabilization.

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Department of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg, AB Gewässerreinigungstechnik, Eissendorfer Str. 42, D-21073 Hamburg, Germany.


The pretreatment of waste activated sludge by ultrasonic disintegration was studied in order to improve the anaerobic sludge stabilization. The ultrasound frequency was varied within a range from 41 to 3217 kHz. The impact of different ultrasound intensities and treatment times was examined. Sludge disintegration was most significant at low frequencies. Low-frequency ultrasound creates large cavitation bubbles which upon collapse initiate powerful jet streams exerting strong shear forces in the liquid. The decreasing sludge disintegration efficiency observed at higher frequencies was attributed to smaller cavitation bubbles which do not allow the initiation of such strong shear forces. Short sonication times resulted in sludge floc deagglomeration without the destruction of bacteria cells. Longer sonication brought about the break-up of cell walls, the sludge solids were distintegrated and dissolved organic compounds were released. The anaerobic digestion of waste activated sludge following ultrasonic pretreatment causing microbial cell lysis was significantly improved. There was an increase in the volatile solids degradation as well as an increase in the biogas production. The increase in digestion efficiency was proportional to the degree of sludge disintegration. To a lesser degree the deagglomeration of sludge flocs also augmented the anaerobic volatile solids degradation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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