Analysing the mechanisms of sludge digestion enhanced by iron

Xiaodi Hao*, Jing Wei, Mark C.M. van Loosdrecht, Daqi Cao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

110 Citations (Scopus)


Carbon-neutral operation of wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) requires enhancing anaerobic digestion (AD) of excess sludge for a higher energy conversion efficiency. Among others, iron has been identified to function on enhancing methane production in AD. As an industrial residual, waste iron scraps (WISs) have been reported as potentially enhancing CH4 production in AD. With this study, the mechanisms of AD enhanced by WISs are analysed in a two-phase process: acidogenic phase (AP) and methanogenic phase (MP). Semi-continuous tests substantially excluded ORP reduction and hydrogen-evolution corrosion induced by WISs in enhancing CH4 production, although WISs (10 g Fe/L) could indeed increase CH4 production by 10.1% and 21.4% when added in AP and MP respectively. Detection on both FISH and enzymatic activities of involved microorganisms revealed that the stimulating effects of WISs on anaerobes (both catabolism and anabolism) could play an important (96.3%) role in enhancing CH4 production, which would facilitate hydrolysis of refractory organics and improvement of electron transport rate (ETR).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-67
Number of pages10
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Activity of enzymes
  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Hydrogen-evolution corrosion
  • Methane
  • Oxidation-reduction potential (ORP)
  • Waste iron scraps (WISs)


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