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Influence of surfactants on anaerobic digestion of waste activated sludge: acid and methane production and pollution removal

Qingyun He, Piao Xu, Chen Zhang, Guangming Zeng, Zhifeng Liu, Dongbo Wang, Wangwang Tang, Haoran Dong, Xiaofei Tan, Abing Duan
Critical Reviews in Biotechnology 2019 April 8, : 1-12
The objective of this study is to summarize the effects of surfactants on anaerobic digestion (AD) of waste activated sludge (WAS). The increasing amount of WAS has caused serious environmental problems. Anaerobic digestion, as the main treatment for WAS containing three stages (i.e. hydrolysis, acidogenesis, and methanogenesis), has been widely investigated. Surfactant addition has been demonstrated to improve the efficiency of AD. Surfactant, as an amphipathic substance, can enhance the efficiency of hydrolysis by separating large sludge and releasing the encapsulated hydrolase, providing more substance for subsequent acidogenesis. Afterwards, the short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), as the major product, have been produced. Previous investigations revealed that surfactant could affect the transformation of SCFA. They changed the types of acidification products by promoting changes in microbial activity and in the ratio of carbon to nitrogen (C/N), especially the ratio of acetic and propionic acid, which were applied for either the removal of nutrient or the production of polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA). In addition, the activity of microorganisms can be affected by surfactant, which mainly leads to the activity changes of methanogens. Besides, the solubilization of surfactant will promote the solubility of contaminants in sludge, such as organic contaminants and heavy metals, by increasing the bioavailability or desorbing of the sludge.


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