Aerobic sludge granulation is a promising innovative technology with the potential to be an alternative to the activated sludge process. It allows running a wastewater treatment plant with 30% less energy input, and requiring 75% less space combining with significant lower investment costs. Aerobic granules’ stability is the main concern of this process. It is strongly connected with the property of exopolysaccharides, particularly the bacterial alginates, which have been recently shown to be more than 10% of aerobic granules’ organic carbon content. Determining their function based on clearly defined analytical methods is significant for bringing this technology into practice. The proposed research aims at establishing and utilizing integrated analytical methods for looking into functional exopolysaccharides and their fine structures, and elucidating its role in aerobic granular sludge formation and stability based on their structure-function relationship. Bacterial alginates will be isolated both from the lab-scale and pilot-scale reactors. Their properties as block fraction, fine chemical structures, monomer ratio, molecular weight, acetylation degree, and etc. will be studied by chemical and advanced instrumental analysis as UV-visible, FT-IR, MALDI-TOF MS, NMR, MS-GC and etc. A qualitative and quantitative correlation between bacterial alginates’ property alteration and aerobic granular sludge formation and stability will be presented. Methods established will greatly facilitate exopolysaccharides research in aerobic granular sludge area; knowledge obtained will provide insight on exopolysaccharides function both in aerobic granules and normal biofilms. This research will accelerate aerobic sludge granulation technology leadership by EU; enhance EU scientific excellence in exopolysaccharides advanced characterization, provide researcher an advanced level of training, and increase European Research Area’s attractiveness to researchers all over the world.
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