Limited information is available on the characteristics of algal-bacterial aerobic granular sludge (AGS) treating real wastewater, especially on its alginate-like exopolymers (ALE) production. In addition, the effect of target microalgae species inoculation on the system performance has not been fully understood. This study aimed to reveal the effect of microalgae inoculation on the characteristics of algal-bacterial AGS and its ALE production potential. Two photo-sequencing batch reactors (PSBR) were employed, namely R1 with activated sludge and R2 with Tetradesmus sp. and activated sludge being inoculated, respectively. Both reactors were fed with locally sourced municipal wastewater and operated for 90 days. Algal-bacterial AGS were successfully cultivated in both reactors. No significant difference was observed between the performances of R1 and R2, reflecting that the inoculation of target microalgae species may not be crucial for the development of algal-bacterial AGS when treating real wastewater. Both reactors achieved an ALE yield of about 70 mg/g of volatile suspended solids (VSS), indicating that a substantial amount of biopolymer can be recovered from wastewater. Interestingly, boron was detected in all the ALE samples, which might contribute to granulation and interspecies quorum sensing. The enrichment of lipids content in ALE from algal-bacterial AGS treating real wastewater reveals its high resource recovery potential. Overall, the algal-bacterial AGS system is a promising biotechnology for simultaneous municipal wastewater treatment and resource (like ALE) recovery.
- Algal-bacterial consortia
- Biological wastewater treatment
- Municipal wastewater
- Resource recovery