Extracellular biopolymers recovered as raw biomaterials from waste granular sludge and potential applications: A critical review

Cuijie Feng*, Tommaso Lotti, Roberto Canziani, Yuemei Lin, Camilla Tagliabue, Francesca Malpei

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Granular sludge (GS) is a special self-aggregation biofilm. Extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) are mainly associated with the architectural structure, rheological behaviour and functional stability of fine granules, given that their significance to the physicochemical features of the biomass catalysing the biological purification process. This review targets the EPS excretion from GS and introduces newly identified EPS components, EPS distribution in different granules, how to effectively extract and recover EPS from granules, key parameters affecting EPS production, and the potential applications of EPS-based biomaterials. GS-based EPS components are highly diverse and a series of new contents are highlighted. Due to high diversity, emerging extraction standards are proposed and recovery process is capturing particular attention. The major components of EPS are found to be polysaccharides and proteins, which manifest a larger diversity of relative abundance, structures, physical and chemical characteristics, leading to the possibility to sustainably recover raw materials. EPS-based biomaterials not only act as alternatives to synthetic polymers in several applications but also figure in innovative industrial/environmental applications, including gel-forming materials for paper industry, biosorbents, cement curing materials, and flame retardant materials. In the upcoming years, it is foreseen that productions of EPS-based biomaterials from renewable origins would make a significant contribution to the advancement of the circular economy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number142051
Number of pages15
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Biomaterials
  • Circular economy
  • Extracellular polymeric substances
  • Extraction and recovery
  • Waste granular sludge management

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