Feasibility of enhancing short-chain fatty acids production from sludge anaerobic fermentation at free nitrous acid pretreatment: Role and significance of Tea saponin
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Short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), raw substrates for biodegradable plastic production and preferred carbon source for biological nutrients removal, can be produced from anaerobic fermentation of waste activated sludge (WAS). This paper reports a new, high-efficient and eco-friendly strategy, i.e., using free nitrous acid (FNA) pretreatment combined with Tea saponin (TS), to enhance SCFA production. Experimental results showed 0.90 mg/L FNA pretreatment and 0.05 g/g total suspended solids TS addition (FNA + TS) not only significantly increased SCFA production to 315.3 ± 8.8 mg COD/g VSS (5.52, 1.76 and 1.93 times higher than that from blank, solo FNA and solo TS, respectively) but also shortened fermentation time to 4 days. Mechanism investigations revealed that FNA pretreatment combined with TS cause a positive synergetic effect on sludge solubilization, resulting in more release of organics. It was also found that the combination benefited hydrolysis and acidogenesis processes but inhibited the methanogenesis.