Impact of influent COD/N ratio on disintegration of aerobic granular sludge

Jinghai Luo, Tianwei Hao, Li Wei, Hamish Mackey, Ziqiao Lin, Guang Hao Chen

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91 Citations (Scopus)


Disintegration of aerobic granular sludge (AGS) is a challenging issue in the long-term operation of an AGS system. Chemical oxygen demand (COD)-to-nitrogen (N) ratio (COD/N), often variable in industrial wastewaters, could be a destabilizing factor causing granule disintegration. This study investigates the impact of this ratio on AGS disintegration and identifies the key causes, through close monitoring of AGS changes in its physical and chemical characteristics, microbial community and treatment performance. For specific comparison, two lab-scale air-lift type sequencing batch reactors, one for aerobic granular and the other for flocculent sludge, were operated in parallel with three COD/N ratios (4, 2, 1) applied in the influent of each reactor. The decreased COD/N ratios of 2 and 1 strongly influenced the stability of AGS with regard to physical properties and nitrification efficiency, leading to AGS disintegration when the ratio was decreased to 1. Comparatively the flocculent sludge maintained relatively stable structure and nitrification efficiency under all tested COD/N ratios. The lowest COD/N ratio resulted in a large microbial community shift and extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) reduction in both flocculent and granular sludges. The disintegration of AGS was associated with two possible causes: 1) reduction in net tyrosine production in the EPS and 2) a major microbial community shift including reduction in filamentous bacteria leading to the collapse of granule structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-135
Number of pages9
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes



  • Aerobic granulation
  • Extracellular polymeric substances
  • Granule stability
  • Substrate COD/N ratio impact
  • Tyrosine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution
  • Ecological Modelling
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Medicine(all)

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