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Water Res. 2011 May;45(11):3291-9. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2011.03.024. Epub 2011 Mar 21.

Selective sludge removal in a segregated aerobic granular biomass system as a strategy to control PAO-GAO competition at high temperatures.

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Department of Biotechnology, Technische Universiteit Delft, Julianalaan 67, 2628 BC Delft, The Netherlands.


An aerobic granular sludge (AGS) reactor was run for 280 days to study the competition between Phosphate and Glycogen Accumulating Organisms (PAOs and GAOs) at high temperatures. Numerous researches have proven that in suspended sludge systems PAOs are outcompeted by GAOs at higher temperatures. In the following study a reactor was operated at 30 °C in which the P-removal efficiency declined from 79% to 32% after 69 days of operation when biomass removal for sludge retention time (SRT) control was established by effluent withdrawal. In a second attempt at 24 °C, efficiency of P-removal remained on average at 71 ± 5% for 76 days. Samples taken from different depths of the sludge bed analysed using Fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) microscopy techniques revealed a distinctive microbial community structure: bottom granules contained considerably more Accumulibacter (PAOs) compared to top granules that were dominated by Competibacter (GAOs). In a third phase the SRT was controlled by discharging biomass exclusively from the top of the sludge bed. The application of this method increased the P-removal efficiency up to 100% for 88 days at 30 °C. Granules selected near the bottom of the sludge bed increased in volume, density and overall ash content; resulting in significantly higher settling velocities. With the removal of exclusively bottom biomass in phase four, P-removal efficiency decreased to 36% within 3 weeks. This study shows that biomass segregation in aerobic granular sludge systems offers an extra possibility to influence microbial competition in order to obtain a desired population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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