Denitrifying sulfur conversion-associated EBPR: The effect of pH on anaerobic metabolism and performance

Gang Guo, Di Wu, Tianwei Hao, Hamish Mackey, Li Wei, Guanghao Chen

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7 Citations (Scopus)


The performance of the denitrifying sulfur conversion-associated enhanced biological phosphorus removal (DS-EBPR) process tends to be unstable and requires further study and development. This in turn requires extensive study of the anaerobic metabolism in terms of its stoichiometry and kinetics. This study evaluates the corresponding responses of DS-EBPR to pH, as it significantly influences both stoichiometry and biochemical kinetics. The impacts of five representative pH values ranging between 6.5 and 8.5 on the anaerobic metabolism were investigated, followed by identification of the optimal pH for performance optimization. A mature DS-EBPR sludge was used in the study, enriched with approximately 30% sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) and 33% sulfide-oxidizing bacteria (SOB). Through a series of batch tests, the optimal pH range was determined as 7.0–7.5. In this pH range, the anaerobic stoichiometry of phosphorus released/volatile fatty acid (VFA) uptake ratio, sulfate reduction, and internal polymer production (including poly-β-hydroxyalkanoates and polysulfide and/or elemental sulfur) all increased along with the anaerobic kinetics of the VFA uptake ratio. Consequently, phosphorus removal was maximized at this pH range (≥95% vs. 84–93% at other pH values), as was sulfur conversion (16 mg S/L vs. 10–13 mg S/L). This pH range therefore favors the activity and synergy of the key functional bacteria (i.e. SRB and SOB). Anaerobic maintenance tests showed these bacteria required 38–61% less energy for maintenance than that reported for GAOs regardless of pH changes, improving their ability to cope with anaerobic starvation. Adversely, both bacteria showed much lower VFA uptake rates than that of GAOs at all tested pH values (0.03–0.06 vs. 0.2–0.24 mol-C/C-mol biomass/h), possibly revealing the primary cause of frequent instability in the DS-EBPR process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-695
Number of pages9
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017



  • Anaerobic metabolism
  • Enhanced biological phosphorous removal
  • Optimization
  • pH
  • Sulfur conversion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modelling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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