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Bacterial alginate: isolation, fine structure characterization and role in aerobic granular sludge formation

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Insight into biopolymers of sludge granules

Researchers have enriched our understanding of the biopolymers in sludge granules. These biopolymers are produced by bacteria during wastewater treatment.

Climate Change and Environment

Aerobic sludge granulation is a promising alternative to normal bacterial wastewater treatment because it uses less energy and decreases the bioreactor space required. These granules are actually complex bacterial communities that are held together by polymers that have similar properties with alginates. These polymers remain under-studied. The EU-funded BAAGS project investigated the alginates found in aerobic sludge granules to better understand their structure and function. The project collected samples of aerobic sludge granules from laboratory and pilot bioreactors. Using a number of advanced analytical techniques, researchers studied the physical and chemical properties of the alginate-like polymers they contained. BAAGS successfully characterised a number of different alginate-like polymers, and noted that these polymers are responsible for granule formation and stability. Furthermore, they found that the presence of these polymers allowed granules to accumulate minerals and other chemicals. Lastly, BAAGS developed a method to measure the strength of aerobic sludge granules and to detect accumulation of apatite, a mineral commonly produced by microbial ecosystems. Project results will further the use of sludge granulation in wastewater treatment in the future.

Keywords

Polymers, sludge granules, bacterial, wastewater, wastewater treatment, aerobic sludge granulation, bioreactor, alginates, granule formation, apatite, microbial ecosystem

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