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ACE, Jennifer Ekholm, Vatten Miljö Teknik

Application of aerobic granular sludge for municipal wastewater treatment
- Process performance and microbial community dynamics under fluctuating condition

Opponent: Professor, Anuska Mosquera Corral,  University of Santiago de Compostela, School of Engineering, Spain

Examinator: Biträdande Professor,  Sebastien Rauch, Vatten Miljö Teknik, Arkitektur och samhällsbyggnadsteknik, Chalmers

Huvudhandledare: Professor, Britt-Marie Wilén, Vatten Miljö Teknik, Arkitektur och samhällsbyggnadsteknik, Chalmers


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Lösenord: 373619



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Pressures of growing cities, competition for use of urban areas and higher influent loads, are pushing for innovative technologies for wastewater treatment with low demands for land footprint and costs. Furthermore, wastewater treatment is needed to move towards a circular economy by harvest of valuable resources such as nutrients and energy. Aerobic granular sludge (AGS) is a biofilm process without a carrier material for wastewater treatment, exhibiting efficient treatment performance, excellent settleability, high biomass retention, tolerance to toxicity and high loads of organic matter. In this thesis, the first implementation of the AGS process in the Nordic countries was studied to assess the treatment performance, microbial community structure, energy usage, land footprint, and volume needs. The results in this project suggested that selective sludge withdrawal, retaining long solids retention time, sufficient substrate availability, and operational flexibility are important factors for granulation. Both the AGS and parallel conventional activated sludge (CAS) process achieved stable organic matter, nitrogen, and phosphorus removal with low average effluent concentrations. Seasonal variations and environmental factors were identified as important for microbial community succession. The granular biofilm demonstrated higher biomass concentration, diversity, and lower seasonal fluctuations in community composition than the flocculent sludge. A one-year energy comparison resulted in lower specific energy usages (kWh m-3 and kWh reduced P.E.-1) and land footprint for the AGS compared to the CAS process. However, a potential for decreased energy usage was recognised for both systems, leading to the conclusion that operational optimisation and process design might be as important as the type of technology. Additionally, the influence of decreasing temperature on AGS was studied in lab-scale reactors, revealing different responses of the functional groups in the microbial community, and even various response of ASVs at the genus level. In conclusion, the AGS technology for municipal wastewater treatment under fluctuating conditions achieved low average effluent concentrations, was more compact and energy efficient compared to the CAS.