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The development and use of combined cultures for the treatment of low strength wastewaters

Ergüder, Tuba Hande
This study was carried out to develop combined cultures which were composed of anaerobic and aerobic cultures, and could survive and operate under alternating aerobic and/or microaerobic / anaerobic conditions in semi-continuous and Upflow Sludge Blanket (USB) reactors. Granular combined cultures with median diameter of 1.28-1.86 mm and 0.8 mm were developed from suspended anaerobic and aerobic cultures in semi-continuous and USB reactors, respectively. Significant specific methanogenic activity (SMA, 14-42 mL CH4/g VSS.hr) and specific oxygen uptake rate (SOUR, 6-47 mg DO/g VSS.hr) values of combined granules in semi-continuous reactors were comparable to those of anaerobic and aerobic granules. Similarly, combined granules in USB reactors exhibited noteworthy SMA and SOUR values of 11-77 mL CH4/g VSS.hr and 10-75 mg DO/g VSS.hr, respectively. Combined granules developed in semi-continuous reactors were found to overcome the drawbacks of both anaerobic and aerobic granules such as the need for long start-up and low stability, respectively. Combined cultures were also developed from anaerobic granular and suspended aerobic cultures in three USB reactors aerated at 10 mL air/min for 4 hours/day (R2), every other day (R3) and 24 hours/day (R4). The use of combined cultures was found to be advantageous compared to the anaerobic granules for the treatment of low strength wastewaters. During municipal wastewater treatment at influent 5-day biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5) concentration of 53-118 mg/L (Hydraulic retention time, HRT: 0.75 day), combined cultures in R2, R3 and R4 exhibited average BOD5 removal efficiencies of 52, 75 and 76%, respectively. Combined granules developed in USB reactor also displayed significant BOD5 removal efficiencies (66-68%) during municipal wastewater application (HRT: 0.75 day). Combined cultures/granules developed in USB reactors might be proposed as an alternative for municipal wastewater treatment due to their advantages such as achievement of required discharge standards, prevention of biomass loss / settleability problems unlike activated sludge systems and possible methanogenic activity as well as high settling characteristics comparable to those of anaerobic granules.