• Sludge pretreatment;
  • Sludge reduction;
  • Ultrasonication;
  • Wastewater treatment


Sludge pretreatment prior to anaerobic digestion has been found to reduce sludge production in wastewater treatment. Sludge disintegration using physical, chemical, biological, or mechanical methods can increase biogas production and reduce sludge quantities. Ultrasonication is one of the most effective means of mechanical disintegration. This study aims to investigate ultrasonication as a means for solubilizing waste activated sludge (WAS) to enhance its digestability. Sonication was applied by the use of two different probes providing different powers and energies into the sludge after which the soluble chemical oxygen demand (sCOD) increases were measured. The samples were then digested anaerobically in 250 mL serum bottles for about 50 days. Along with the biogas measurements, the rate of methane production is calculated to be able to quantify the effect of pretreatment and compare the results between different applications. The results showed that with the increase of sonication power and sonication time, sCOD increased. An introduction of higher sonication energy made the sCOD rise sharply, however, this increase was not indefinite; it became gradually lower with the further increase of energy. The results indicated that specific methane production, specific methane yield, and the first order methane generation rate increased with increasing energy input.