Contribution identification of hydrolyzed products of potassium ferrate on promoting short-chain fatty acids production from waste activated sludge

Cong Cong Tang, Min Zhang, Bo Wang, Zheng Shuo Zou, Xing Ye Yao, Ai Juan Zhou, Wenzong Liu, Yong Xiang Ren, Zhi Hua Li, Aijie Wang, Zhang Wei He*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperLetterpeer-review


Potassium ferrate (K2FeO4) has been extensively employed to promote short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) production from anaerobic fermentation of waste activated sludge (WAS) because of its potent oxidizing property and formation of alkaline hydrolyzed products (potassium hydroxide, KOH and ferric hydroxide, Fe(OH)3). However, whether K2FeO4 actually works as dual functions of both an oxidizing agent and an alkalinity enhancer during the anaerobic fermentation process remains uncertain. This study aims to identify the contributions of hydrolyzed products of K2FeO4 on SCFAs production. The results showed that K2FeO4 did not execute dual functions of oxidization and alkalinity in promoting SCFAs production. The accumulation of SCFAs using K2FeO4 treatment (183 mg COD/g volatile suspended solids, VSS) was less than that using either KOH (192 mg COD/g VSS) or KOH & Fe(OH)3 (210 mg COD/g VSS). The mechanism analysis indicated that the synergistic effects caused by oxidization and alkalinity properties of K2FeO4 did not happen on solubilization, hydrolysis, and acidogenesis stages, and the inhibition effect caused by K2FeO4 on methanogenesis stage at the initial phase was more severe than that of its hydrolyzed products. It was also noted that the inhibition effects of K2FeO4 and its hydrolyzed products on the methanogenesis stage could be relieved during a longer sludge retention time, and the final methane yields using KOH or KOH & Fe(OH)3 treatment were higher than that using K2FeO4, further confirming that dual functions of K2FeO4 were not obtained. Therefore, K2FeO4 may not be an alternative strategy for enhancing the production of SCFAs from WAS compared to its alkaline hydrolyzed products. Regarding the strong oxidization property of K2FeO4, more attention could be turned to the fates of refractory organics in the anaerobic fermentation of WAS.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118886
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


  • Anaerobic fermentation
  • Hydrolyzed products
  • Potassium ferrate
  • Short-chain fatty acids
  • Waste activated sludge


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