Water environment research : a research publication of the Water Environment Federation

EBPR using crude glycerol: assessing process resiliency and exploring metabolic anomalies.

PMID 25630129


Enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) is predicated on exposing bacteria to cyclical anaerobic/aerobic environments while providing volatile fatty acids (VFAs). Combined, this environment enriches for phosphorus accumulating organisms (PAOs) and induces metabolisms to ensure excess phosphorus removal. Crude glycerol (CG), a byproduct of biodiesel manufacturing, is an alternate waste stream that could be substituted to achieve excess phosphorus removal; research into the use of CG yielded unexpected findings. While CG was an excellent substrate to accomplish and/or help achieve excess phosphorus removal, CG-fed bacteria did not consistently exhibit theoretical EBPR metabolisms. Specifically, anaerobic phosphorus release was not required for successful EBPR; however, carbon cycling patterns were consistent with theory. Analysis of results suggests that PAOs will first leverage carbon to generate energy anaerobically; only as needed will the bacteria utilize polyphosphate reserves anaerobically. Results also demonstrated that excess phosphorus removal can be achieved with a small fraction of PAOs.