High concentrations of particulate COD (pCOD) in the influent of aerobic granular sludge (AGS) systems are often associated to small granule diameter and a large fraction of flocculent sludge. At high particulate concentrations even granule stability and process performance might be compromised. However, pilot-or full-scale studies focusing on the effect of real wastewater partic-ulates on AGS are scarce. This study describes a 3-month period of increased particulate loading at a municipal AGS wastewater treatment plant. The pCOD concentration of the influent increased from 0.5 g COD/L to 1.3 g COD/L, by adding an untreated slaughterhouse wastewater source to the influent. Sludge concentration, waste sludge production and COD and nutrient removal performance were monitored. Furthermore, to investigate how the sludge acclimatises to a higher influent particulate content, lipase and protease hydrolytic activities were studied, as well as the microbial community composition of the sludge. The composition of the granule bed and nutrient removal efficiency did not change considerably by the increased pCOD. Interestingly, the biomass-specific hydrolytic activities of the sludge did not increase during the test period either. However, already during normal operation the aerobic granules and flocs exhibited a hydrolytic potential that ex-ceeded the influent concentrations of proteins and lipids. Microbial community analysis also revealed a high proportion of putative hydrolysing and fermenting organisms in the sludge, both during normal operation and during the test period. The results of this study highlight the robust-ness of the full-scale AGS process, which can bear a substantial increase in the influent pCOD concentration during an extended period.
- Aerobic granular sludge
- Full-scale wastewater treatment
- Granule stability
- Nutrient removal
- Particulate COD