Influence of operation mode and wastewater strength on aerobic granulation at pilot scale: Startup period, granular sludge characteristics, and effluent quality.Water Res. 2019 Sep 01; 160:81-96.WR
This study attempted to investigate the influence of operation mode and wastewater strength on startup period, aerobic granular sludge (AGS) characteristics, and system effluent quality at pilot scale. Granulation was monitored in three pilot-scale granular sequencing batch reactors (GSBRs). Comparative evaluation of AN/O/AX/O_SBR and O_SBR, fed with wastewater of the same composition but run with completely different SBR reaction phase arrangements (alternating vs. purely aerobic), revealed the effect of SBR operation mode. Comparative study of the GSBRs operated with alternating SBR reaction phases (AN/O/AX/O_SBR and AN/O_SBR) and fed with wastewater of different strength (high- vs. medium-strength) determined the effect of wastewater composition. Granulation time and granule size were regulated by wastewater strength and the resulting organic and sludge loading conditions. Whereas, AGS morphology, granule structure, and floccular proportion of AGS were attributed to SBR operation mode. Effluent clarity in terms of suspended solid concentration depended on wastewater strength. Subtle but distinct microbial selection strategies were in effect during granulation which were also imposed by wastewater strength. Due to strong correlation between the effluent and AGS microbial structures, demonstrated by biodiversity analysis, differences in the microbial composition of effluent biomass and washout patterns of the GSBRs could be explained by wastewater strength as well. Limited nutrient removal efficiencies, restricted by organic matter concentration, could be due to involvement of unorthodox nutrient removal pathways which warrants further investigation.