Hong Kong practices seawater toilet flushing covering 80% of the population. A sulfur cycle-based biological nitrogen removal process, the Sulfate reduction, Autotrophic denitrification and Nitrification Integrated (SANI®) process, had been developed to close the loop between the hybrid water supply and saline sewage treatment. To enhance this novel process, granulation of a Sulfate-Reducing Up-flow Sludge Bed (SRUSB) reactor has recently been conducted for organic removal and provision of electron donors (sulfide) for subsequent autotrophic denitrification, with a view to minimizing footprint and maximizing operation resilience. This further study was focused on the biological and physicochemical characteristics of the granular sulfate-reducing sludge. A lab-scale SRUSB reactor seeded with anaerobic digester sludge was operated with synthetic saline sewage for 368 days. At 1h nominal hydraulic retention time (HRT) and 6.4kg COD/m3-d organic loading rate, the SRUSB reactor achieved 90% COD and 75% sulfate removal efficiencies. Granular sludge was observed within 30 days, and became stable after 4 months of operation with diameters of 400-500μm, SVI5 of 30ml/g, and extracellular polymeric substances of 23 mg carbohydrate/g VSS. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis revealed that the granules were enriched with abundant sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) as compared with the seeding sludge. Pyrosequencing analysis of the 16S rRNA gene in the sulfate-reducing granules on day 90 indicated that the microbial community consisted of a diverse SRB genera, namely Desulfobulbus (18.1%), Desulfobacter (13.6%), Desulfomicrobium (5.6%), Desulfosarcina (0.73%) and Desulfovibrio (0.6%), accounting for 38.6% of total operational taxonomic units at genera level, with no methanogens detected. The microbial population and physicochemical properties of the granules well explained the excellent performance of the granular SRUSB reactor.
- Granular sludge characterization
- Sulfate-reducing sludge granulation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecological Modelling
- Water Science and Technology
- Waste Management and Disposal