The effect of seed sludge on the selection of a photo-EBPR system

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9 Citations (Scopus)


The phototrophic-enhanced biological phosphorus removal system (photo-EBPR) was recently proposed as an alternative photosynthetic process to conventional phosphorus removal. Previous work showed the possibility of obtaining a photo-EBPR system starting from a culture already enriched in polyphosphate accumulating organisms (PAOs). The present work evaluated whether the same could be achieved starting from conventional activated sludge. A sequencing batch reactor inoculated with sludge from a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) was fed with a mixture of acetate and propionate (75%:25%) and subjected to dark/light cycles to select a photo-EBPR system containing PAOs and photosynthetic organisms, the oxygen providers for the system. The results showed that it is possible to obtain a photo-EBPR system starting from a WWTP sludge, although the process is slower than when started with a sludge already enriched in PAOs. After 15 days of operation, the system could remove 60 ± 2 mg-P/L of phosphorus (approximately 67% of the concentration at the end of dark period) in the light period, from which 13 ± 1 mg-P/L was removed during the phase without external air supply. These results indicate that a photo-EBPR system can be obtained independently of the seed sludge initially used, provided that a suitable operating strategy is implemented, i.e. by imposing conditions that favour the growth and coexistence of PAOs and photosynthetic microorganisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-119
Number of pages8
JournalNew Biotechnology
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2019
Event9th International Conference on Environmental Engineering and Management (ICEEM) - University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy
Duration: 6 Sept 20179 Sept 2017


  • Aeration
  • Low energy
  • Photo-enhanced biological phosphorus removal
  • Photosynthetic organisms
  • Polyphosphate accumulating organisms


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