Breaking down sludge floc (sonodyspergation effect) and destruction of the cell membranes of microorganisms forming floc is a direct effect of ultrasonic disintegration of sludge excess. This results in release of organic material by liquid sludge (the sonolysis effect). Desired technological effects of the disintegration are: to shorten the hydrolytic phase of fermentation, to increase the production of biogas (source of renewable energy) and an increased mineralization (stability) of fermented sludge. The presented study demonstrates research covering thickened excess sludge of various physicochemical properties, collected from nine municipal sewage treatment plants. The sludge was subjected to ultrasonic disintegration using three differently constructed disintegrators and different proportions of sonification area. Direct effects of disintegration were monitored and recorded using selected indicators describing changes in the properties of sludge and increase of substance dispersed and dissolved in the supernatant liquid to be filtered. Studies have demonstrated that those (direct) effects of ultrasonic disintegration depend on the physicochemical properties of the sludge (foremost the concentration of dry solids) that determine their variable susceptibility to the disintegration methods. The direct effects also depend on optimal process conditions (which consist of the construction of the ultrasonic disintegrator), the geometric proportions of the sonication area and the operating parameters of disintegration (which could be appropriately matched to the characteristics of sludge). The most preferable results were obtained for ultrasonic disintegration of sludge with a dry matter concentration C 0 < 4.2 %. The highest effect of sonolysis-an almost 30-fold increase in the COD dissolved in the supernatant-was obtained for the sludge of lowest dry matter (C 0 = 2.0 %), which was sonicated in a reactor with a short transducer of the largest radiating surface area, as well as the lowest ratio between this area and area of reactor. The best effects of disagglomeration of flocks have corresponded with the high value of power density U UD = 880-900 WL(-1).
Keywords: Cell disruption; Disagglomeration; Disintegration; Excess sludge; Fermentation; Lysis; Specific energy; Ultrasounds; Volumetric energy.