It is commonly accepted that high salt concentrations negatively affect microbial activity in biological wastewater treatment reactors such as upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactors. Microbial aggregation in such reactors is equally important. It is well documented that anaerobic granules, when exposed to high salinity become weak and disintegrate, causing wash-out, operational problems and decreasing process performance. In this research, the possibility of microbial granule formation from dispersed biomass was investigated at salinity levels of 5 and 20 g Na+/L. High removal efficiencies of soluble influent organics were achieved at both salinity levels and this was accompanied by fast and robust formation of microbial granules. The process was found to be stable for the entire operational period of 217 days. As far as we know this is the first time it has been demonstrated that stable granule formation is possible at a salinity level as high as 20 g Na+/L. Methanosaeta was identified as the dominant methanogen at both salinity levels. Streptococcus spp. and bacteria belonging to the family Lachnospiraceae were identified as the dominant microbial population at 5 and 20 and g Na+/L, respectively.
- Anaerobic sludge granulation
- High salinity