Dr. Yun Chen and Associate Professor Nan Shen published a research paper in Bioresource Technology (2020: 124613)
This study conducted a comprehensive comparison of acidic (R5.0) and alkaline (R10.0) anaerobic fermentations of waste activated sludge (WAS). The results showed that alkaline fermentation was able to increase biopolymer release and benefitted the production of volatile fatty acids (VFAs). However, large amounts of the released organic matter in the R10.0 fermented liquid had low biodegradability unsuitable for the biological nutrient removal (BNR) process, resulting in increased C, nitrogen, and phosphorus loads in BNR effluent. Further, Al was more readily released than other metals and its maximum concentration reached 134.52 mg/L in R10.0, 2.99 times higher than in R5.0. The fermented sludge filterability was severely deteriorated at R10.0, as indicated by the normalized capillary suction time and specific resistance to filtration. Considering these findings, VFAs from WAS via acidic fermentation may represent a suitable carbon source for direct use in the BNR process.