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Strategies of anaerobic sludge granulation in an EGSB reactor

Faria, C.V., Souza, D.F., Pontes, T.M., Amaral, M.C.S., Fonseca, F.V.
Journal of environmental management 2019 v.244 pp. 69-76
biomass, calcium chloride, chemical oxygen demand, granules, sewage, sludge, sodium chloride, volatile fatty acids
Anaerobic sludge granulation was evaluated in an expanded granular sludge bed (EGSB) reactor based on the increases in the specific organic loading rate (SOLR). The effect of precursor substances (calcium chloride, sodium chloride, and tannin) on the development of granular sludge was also investigated in batch reactors. The reactors were fed with synthetic sewage and operated in mesophilic conditions. The EGSB was operated with a variable hydraulic retention time (HRT) and the batch reactors, with cycles of 8 h and 16 h. The increase of SOLR from 17.4 ± 7.4 to 104.6 ± 66.7 mgCOD gVSS-1 d-1 in the EGSB resulted in an increase on the average granules diameter from 344.3 to 1583.3 μm. These conditions also favored the reduction rates of chemical oxygen demand (COD) and volatile fatty acids (VFAs) concentration in the reactor. When the upflow velocity suffered an abrupt increase (from 0.06 L h-1 to 0.25 L h-1), the granules size began to decrease and lose their settleability characteristics. Considering this, it is proposed to start the biomass granulation process without effluent recirculation, and, after the granules reach the desired size and settleability capacity, the normal operation of EGSB reactor starts. The results showed that calcium chloride was more efficient for granulation. CaCl2 addition can be performed only during the reactor's start-up, improving granulation and reducing start-up time. Thus, these results have practical implications as granules maintenance is the key to the proper EGSB operation.