Composition and aggregation of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) in hyperhaline and municipal wastewater treatment plants

Abstract

As important constituents of activated sludge flocs, extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) play significant roles in pollutants adsorption, the formation and maintenance of microbial aggregates, and the protection of microbes from external environmental stresses. In this work, EPS in activated sludge from a municipal wastewater treatment plant (M-WWTP) with anaerobic/anoxic/oxic (A(2)/O) process and a hyperhaline wastewater treatment plant (H-WWTP) with anaerobic/oxic (A/O) process were extracted by ultrasound method. The proteins and polysaccharides contents in EPS were determined by using a modified Lowry method and anthrone colorimetry respectively to analyze the detail differences in two types of WWTPs. Fourier transform-infrared spectroscopy and three-dimensional excitation-emission matrix fluorescence spectroscopy demonstrated proteins and polysaccharides were the dominant components of the two types of EPS, and the aromatic protein-like substances accounted for a larger proportion in EPS proteins. The results of the aggregation test indicated that EPS were good for the sludge aggregation, and the EPS in oxic sludge were more beneficial to sludge aggregation than that in anoxic sludge. Anoxic sludge EPS in H-WWTP showed a negligible effect on sludge aggregation. Comparative study on EPS of different tanks in the M-WWTP and H-WWTP was valuable for understanding the characteristics of EPS isolated from two typical wastewater treatment processes.

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