The effect of mixing by siphon flow on anaerobic digestion, sludge distribution and microbial community were examined in parallel experiments using a siphon-mixed reactor (SMR), an unmixed reactor (UMR) and a continuously mixed reactor (CMR). The SMR performed well without the accumulation of fatty acids under COD loading rates varying from 3 to 18 kg/m3/day, while the UMR was totally acidified when the loading rate increased to 10 kg/m3/day. The methane yield of the SMR was at least 10% higher than that of the UMR, and comparable to that of the CMR. Furthermore, the SMR was found to markedly improve the dispersion of solids and reduce deposit formation compared to the UMR. Besides, during stable operation, the fatty acids level in the effluent of the SMR and UMR was lower than that in the CMR, and the archaeal community structure of the SMR was similar to that of the UMR.
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