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Composition analysis of fractions of extracellular polymeric substances from an activated sludge culture and identification of dominant forces affecting microbial aggregation.


ABSTRACT: Extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) appear to play a critical role in the formation of bioaggregates, such as sludge flocs, in activated sludge processes. Here, we systematically investigated the composition and chemical structure of various EPS fractions excreted from an activated sludge culture using multi-analysis techniques to examine the ability of the sludge to aggregate. Chemical analysis was used with a three-dimensional excitation emission matrix and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, applying inter-particle forces theory. The combined findings revealed that hydrophobic groups, especially protein-related N-H, were present in a greater proportion in tightly bound EPS (TB-EPS). This result, which explained the specificity of TB-EPS in the chemical structure, was consistent with data indicating that TB-EPS contained a large amount of protein-like substances (86.7?mg/g of mixed liquor volatile suspended solids, 39.7% of the total EPS). Subsequently, a novel experimental procedure was developed to pinpoint key inter-particle forces in sludge aggregation. The result revealed that hydrogen bonds are the predominant triggers that promote sludge aggregation. This comprehensive analysis indicated that hydrophobic proteins in TB-EPS are responsible for the critical role played by hydrogen bonds in sludge formation. Our findings highlight the need to elucidate the mechanisms of TB-EPS-mediated flocculation in future efforts.

SUBMITTER: Guo X 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4911604 | BioStudies | 2016-01-01T00:00:00Z

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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