Performance and mechanisms of zero valent iron enhancing short-chain fatty acids production during thermophilic anaerobic fermentation of waste activated sludge

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Science of the Total Environment


This work first explored the feasibility and possible mechanisms of zero valent iron (ZVI) pretreatment on the generation of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) during thermophilic anaerobic fermentation of waste activated sludge (WAS). Results showed that ZVI enhanced the quantity of SCFAs. On Day 6, the SCFAs production reached 455.84 ± 47.88 mg COD/g VSS at 5 g/L of ZVI addition, which increased by 63.80 % relative to control. The presence of ZVI can effectively promote butyric-based fermentation. ZVI accelerated the destruction of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) and interior sludge cells, as well as improved biodegradation of soluble organics. Also, ZVI enhanced key enzyme activities (i.e., BK and CoA-), thus promoting degradation rates of acidogenesis (6.30 ± 0.84 mg/(gVSS·h) in glucose) and acetogenesis (74.63 ± 0.29 mg/(gVSS·h) in butyrate). Compared to Fe(III), the contribution of Fe(II) was higher among the decomposition products of ZVI. Besides, ZVI favored Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria, which enhanced acetate formation and organic compounds disassimilation of the process, respectively. The abundance of Tepidiphilus, Thermobrachium and Tepidimicrobium was increased, indicating promoting the system stability of SCFAs production in thermophilic anaerobic fermentation.

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Harbin Institute of Technology



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