Behavior of polymeric substrates in an aerobic granular sludge system

M. K. de Kreuk*, N. Kishida, S. Tsuneda, M. C.M. van Loosdrecht

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Citations (Scopus)


Particulate and slowly biodegradable substrates form an important fraction of industrial wastewater and sewage. To study the influence of suspended solids and colloidal substrate on the morphology and performance of aerobic granular sludge, suspended and soluble starch was used as a model substrate. Degradation was studied using microscopy, micro-electrode measurements, batch experiments and long term laboratory scale reactor operation. Starch was removed by adsorption at the granule surface, followed by hydrolysis and consumption of the hydrolyzed products. Aerobic granules could be maintained on starch as sole influent carbon source, but their structure was filamentous and irregular. It is hypothesized that this is related to the low starch hydrolysis rates, leading to available substrate during the aeration period (extended feast period) and resulting in increased substrate gradients over the granules. The latter induces a less uniform granule development. Starch adsorbed and was consumed at the granule surface instead of being accumulated inside the granules as occurs for soluble substrates. Therefore the simultaneous denitrification efficiencies remained low. Moreover, many protozoa and metazoans were observed in laboratory reactors as well as in pilot- and full-scale Nereda® reactors, indicating an important role in the removal of suspended solids too.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5929-5938
Number of pages10
JournalWater Research
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Dec


  • Aerobic granular sludge
  • Filamentous structures
  • Hydrolysis
  • Protozoa
  • Starch
  • Suspended solids
  • Wastewater treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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