Aerobic granular sludge phosphate removal using glucose

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Enhanced biological phosphate removal and aerobic sludge granulation are commonly studied with fatty acids as substrate. Fermentative substrates such as glucose have received limited attention. In this work, glucose conversion by aerobic granular sludge and its impact on phosphate removal was studied. Long-term stable phosphate removal and successful granulation were achieved. Glucose was rapidly taken up (273 mg/gVSS/h) at the start of the anaerobic phase, while phosphate was released during the full anaerobic phase. Some lactate was produced during glucose consumption, which was anaerobically consumed once glucose was depleted. The phosphate release appeared to be directly proportional to the uptake of lactate. The ratio of phosphorus released to glucose carbon taken up over the full anaerobic phase was 0.25 Pmol/Cmol. Along with glucose and lactate uptake in the anaerobic phase, poly‑hydroxy-alkanoates and glycogen storage were observed. There was a linear correlation between glucose consumption and lactate formation. While lactate accounted for approximately 89 % of the observed products in the bulk liquid, minor quantities of formate (5 %), propionate (4 %), and acetate (3 %) were also detected (mass fraction). Formate was not consumed anaerobically. Quantitative fluorescence in-situ hybridization (qFISH) revealed that polyphosphate accumulating organisms (PAO) accounted for 61 ± 15 % of the total biovolume. Metagenome evaluation of the biomass indicated a high abundance of Micropruina and Ca. Accumulibacter in the system, which was in accordance with the microscopic observations and the protein mass fraction from metaproteome analysis. Anaerobic conversions were evaluated based on theoretical ATP balances to provide the substrate distribution amongst the dominant genera. This research shows that aerobic granular sludge technology can be applied to glucose-containing effluents and that glucose is a suitable substrate for achieving phosphate removal. The results also show that for fermentable substrates a microbial community consisting of fermentative organisms and PAO develop.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120776
Number of pages10
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Aerobic granular sludge
  • Ca. Accumulibacter
  • Enhanced biological phosphorus removal
  • Fermentative GAO
  • Micropruina
  • Proteomics


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