Effect of the co-treatment of synthetic faecal sludge and wastewater in an aerobic granular sludge system

Mary Luz Barrios-Hernández, Claribel Buenaño-Vargas, Hector García, Damir Brdjanovic, Mark C.M. van Loosdrecht, Christine M. Hooijmans

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The co-treatment of two synthetic faecal sludges (FS-1 and FS-2) with municipal synthetic wastewater (WW) was evaluated in an aerobic granular sludge (AGS) reactor. After characterisation, FS-1 showed the following concentrations, representative for medium-strength FS: 12,180 mg TSS L−1, 24,300 mg total COD L−1, 93.8 mg PO3-P L−1, and 325 mg NH4-N L−1. The NO3-N concentration was relatively high (300 mg L−1). For FS-2, the main difference with FS-1 was a lower nitrate concentration (18 mg L−1). The recipes were added consecutively, together with the WW, to an AGS reactor. In the case of FS-1, the system was fed with 7.2 kg total COD m−3d−1 and 0.5 kg Nitrogen m−3d−1. Undesired denitrification occurred during feeding and settling resulting in floating sludge and wash-out. In the case of FS-2, the system was fed with 8.0 kg total COD m−3d−1 and 0.3 kg Nitrogen m−3d−1. The lower NO3-N concentration in FS-2 resulted in less floating sludge, a more stabilised granular bed and better effluent concentrations. To enhance the hydrolysis of the slowly biodegradable particulates from the synthetic FS, an anaerobic stand-by period was added and the aeration period was increased. Overall, when compared to a control AGS reactor, a lower COD consumption (from 87 to 35 mg g−1 VSS h−1), P-uptake rates (from 6.0 to 2.0 mg P g VSS−1 h−1) and NH4-N removal (from 2.5 to 1.4 mg NH4-N g VSS−1 h−1) were registered after introducing the synthetic FS. Approximately 40% of the granular bed became flocculent at the end of the study, and a reduction of the granular size accompanied by higher solids accumulation in the reactor was observed. A considerable protozoa Vorticella spp. bloom attached to the granules and the accumulated particles occurred; potentially contributing to the removal of the suspended solids which were part of the FS recipe.

Original languageEnglish
Article number140480
Number of pages12
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Aerobic granular sludge
  • Co-treatment
  • Digested faecal sludge
  • Protozoa
  • Suspended solids
  • Vorticella spp.

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