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Keywords:

  • enhanced biological phosphorus removal;
  • full-scale sludge;
  • polyphosphate accumulating organisms;
  • metabolic models;
  • reducing power;
  • volatile fatty acids

Abstract

The metabolism of polyphosphate accumulating organisms (PAOs) has been widely studied through the use of lab-scale enrichments. Various metabolic models have been formulated, based on the results from lab-scale experiments using enriched PAO cultures. A comparison between the anaerobic stoichiometry predicted by metabolic models with that exhibited by full-scale sludge in enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) was performed in this study. Batch experiments were carried out with either acetate or propionate as the sole carbon source, using sludges from two different EBPR-WWTPs in Australia that achieved different phosphorus removal performances. The results support the hypothesis that the anaerobic degradation of glycogen is the primary source of reducing equivalents generated by PAOs, however, they also suggested a partial contribution of the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle in some cases. The experimental results obtained when acetate was the carbon source suggest the involvement of the modified succinate-propionate pathway for the generation of poly-β-hydroxyvalerate (PHV). Overall, the batch test results obtained from full-scale EBPR sludge with both substrates were generally well described by metabolic model predictions for PAOs. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2008;99: 170–179. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.