Reducing the startup time of aerobic granular sludge reactors through seeding floccular sludge with crushed aerobic granules

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5075-5083
Journal / PublicationWater Research
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


One of the main challenging issues for the aerobic granular sludge technology is the long startup time when dealing with real wastewaters. This study presents a novel strategy to reduce the time required for granulation while ensuring a high level of nutrient removal. This new approach consists of seeding the reactor with a mixture of crushed aerobic granules and floccular sludge. The effectiveness of the strategy was demonstrated using abattoir wastewater, containing nitrogen and phosphorus at approximately 250 mgN/L and 30 mgP/L, respectively. Seven different mixtures of crushed granules and floccular sludge at granular sludge fractions (w/w in dry mass) of 0%, 5%, 10%, 15%, 25%, 30% and 50% were used to start eight granulation processes. The granulation time (defined as the time when the 10th percentile bacterial aggregate size is larger than 200 μm) displayed a strong dependency on the fraction of granular sludge. The shortest granulation time of 18 days was obtained with 50% crushed granules, in comparison with 133 days with 5% crushed granules. Full granulation was not achieved in the two trials without seeding with crushed granules. In contrast to the 100% floccular sludge cases, where a substantial loss of biomass occurred during granulation, the biomass concentration in all other trails did not decrease during granulation. This allowed that good nitrogen removal was maintained in all the reactors during the granulation process. However, enhanced biological phosphorus removal was achieved in only one of the eight trials. This was likely due to the temporary accumulation of nitrite, a strong inhibitor of polyphosphate accumulating organisms. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Research Area(s)

  • Aerobic granules, Crushed granules, Nutrient removal, Nutrient rich wastewater, Seeding, Startup

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