Effects of hydraulic retention time on aerobic granulation and granule growth kinetics at steady state with a fast start-up strategy

Yong Qiang Liu, Xing Zhang, Rui Zhang, Wen Tso Liu, Joo Hwa Tay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A hydraulic retention time (HRT) of 4, 6, and 8 h was employed, respectively, in three reactors to study the effects of HRT on granulation with a newly developed fast granulation strategy, i.e., a strategy by combining strong hydraulic selection pressure with high organic loading rate (OLR). Granules with clear boundary appeared within 24 h after reactor start-up and all reactors reached a pseudo steady state after 6-day operation. A 4-h HRT resulted in a relatively higher increasing rate in terms of granule size during granule development period, i.e., 208 μm day−1, and the bigger granule size and the higher sludge volume index at the pseudo steady state. For HRT of 6 or 8 h, no obvious difference was observed. However, it was found that HRT influenced sludge retention time (SRT) and kinetics significantly. A HRT changing from 4 to 8 h led to an increased SRT from 3 to 21 days, a decreased observed specific biomass growth rate (μobs) and an decreased observed biomass yield (Yobs) of stable granules from 0.37 to 0.062 days−1, and 0.177 to 0.055 g MLVSS g−1 COD, respectively. Both μobs and Yobs had a linear relationship with the reciprocal of HRT. In addition, the great difference of microbial community between seed sludge, sludge retained in the reactors, and sludge washed out indicated a strong microbial selection for fast granulation within 24 h. However, during the granule development period from day 1 to 6, no more microbial selection was observed except an adjustment of microbial community. Little influence of HRT on microbial population in granular sludge indicated a minor role of HRT played for granulation with the fast start-up strategy adopted in this study. The results demonstrated that hydraulic selection pressure for granulation was mainly from short settling time, which led to strong microbial selection during the granulation period. Meanwhile, although HRT did not affect granulation with the fast start-up strategy, it played an important role on sludge retention time and excess sludge production. Therefore, HRT should be carefully optimized to balance benefits and shortfalls it brings to aerobic granular sludge system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)469-477
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Aerobic granule
  • Cycle time
  • Fast start-up
  • Hydraulic selection pressure
  • Microbial selection
  • Sequential batch reactor (SBR)
  • Settling time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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