Influence of the organic loading rate on the performance and the granular sludge characteristics of an EGSB reactor used for treating traditional Chinese medicine wastewater.Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2014; 21(13):8167-75.ES
The effects of the organic loading rate (OLR) on the performance and the granular sludge characteristics of an expanded granular sludge bed (EGSB) reactor used for treating real traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) wastewater were investigated. Over 90% of the COD removal by the EGSB reactor was observed at the OLRs of 4 to 13 kg COD/(m(3) day). However, increasing the OLR to 20 kg COD/(m(3) day) by reducing the hydraulic retention time (HRT 6 h) reduced the COD removal efficiency to 78%. The volatile fatty acid (VFA) concentration was 512.22 mg/L, resulting in an accumulation of VFAs, and propionic acid was the main acidification product, accounting for 66.51% of the total VFAs. When the OLR increased from 10 to 20 kg COD/(m(3) day), the average size of the granule sludge decreased from 469 to 258 μm. There was an obvious reduction in the concentration of Ca(2+) and Mg(2+) in the granular sludge. The visible humic acid-like peak was identified in the three-dimensional excitation-emission matrix (EEM) fluorescence spectra of the soluble microbial products (SMPs). The fatty acid bond, amide II bond, amide III bond, and C-H bond bending were also observed in the Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectra of the SMPs. Methanobacterium formicicum, Methanococcus, and Bacteria populations exhibited significant shifts, and these changes were accompanied by an increase in VFA production. The results indicated that a short HRT and high OLR in the EGSB reactor caused the accumulation of polysaccharides, protein, and VFAs, thereby inhibiting the activity of methanogenic bacteria and causing granular sludge corruption.