Effect of Long-Chain Fatty Acids on Anaerobic Digestion
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An investigation was carried out to study whether long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs) have an effect on digestion of waste sludge under anaerobic conditions. Four different kinds of LCFAs were used in this study. The 18 carbon series with 0, 1, 2 and 3 double bonds were studied to evaluate the degree of saturation on fatty acid degradation. Due to their molecular structure, unsaturated LCFAs are more soluble than saturated LCFAs. Oleic, linoleic, linolenic acid with an ascending number of double bonds were tested as representatives for three different degrees of saturation. In addition, stearic acid, a saturated fatty acid was also tested. LCFAs were added to sewage sludge at concentrations ranging from 5% to 20% on a weight basis and the pH, solids reduction and COD reduction were determined. The results suggested that in addition to degrading in the digesters, all unsaturated acids contributed additional solids removal, compared to the control group. In contrast, stearic acid did not affect the solids removal. The COD reduction was similar to solids reduction in that additional COD was destroyed when unsaturated LCFAs were added to the sludge. The mechanism for additional solids reduction is not known.
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