Digestibility of waste aerobic granular sludge from a full-scale municipal wastewater treatment system

Hongxiao Guo*, Jules B. van Lier, Merle de Kreuk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)
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Full-scale aerobic granular sludge technology under the trade name Nereda® has been implemented for municipal, as well as industrial wastewater treatment. Owing to the operational reactor procedures, two types of waste aerobic granular sludge can be clearly distinguished: 1) aerobic granular sludge selection discharge (AGS-SD) and 2) aerobic granular sludge mixture (AGS-RTC). This study systematically compared the anaerobic biodegradability of AGS-SD and AGS-RTC under mesophilic conditions. Results were further compared with the anaerobic conversion of waste activated sludge (WAS) as well as primary sludge (PS) from full-scale municipal wastewater treatment plants. Analysis showed similar chemical characteristics for AGS-SD and PS, which were both characterized by a high carbohydrate content (429 ± 21 and 464 ± 15 mg glucose/g VS sludge, respectively), mainly cellulosic fibres. Concurrently, AGS-RTC exhibited chemical properties close to WAS, both characterized by a relatively high protein content, which were individually 498 ± 14 and 389 ± 15 mg/g VS sludge. AGS-SD was characterized by a high biochemical methane potential (BMP) (296 ± 15 mL CH4/g VS substrate), which was similar to that of PS, and remarkably higher than that of AGS-RTC and WAS. Strikingly, the BMP of AGS-RTC (194 ± 10 mL CH4/g VS substrate) was significantly lower than that of WAS (232 ± 11 mL CH4/g VS substrate). Mechanically destroying the compact structure of AGS-RTC only accelerated the methane production rate but did not significantly affect the BMP value. Results indicated that compared to WAS, the proteins and carbohydrates in AGS-RTC were both more resistant to anaerobic bio-degradation, which might be related to the presence of refractory microbial metabolic products in AGS-RTC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115617
Number of pages8
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Aerobic granular sludge selection discharge
  • Biochemical methane potential
  • Full-scale Nereda® municipal wastewater treatment plant
  • Physicochemical characteristics
  • Waste aerobic granular sludge


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