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Wang B.-B.,Xian University of Architecture and Technology | Wang B.-B.,Key Laboratory of Northwest Water Resource Environment and Ecology | Chang Q.,Xian University of Architecture and Technology | Chang Q.,Key Laboratory of Northwest Water Resource Environment and Ecology | And 8 more authors.
Water Research | Year: 2014

Extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) play a crucial role in the formation of activated sludge flocs. However, until now, the EPS are rather classified by the method used for extraction than by a theoretical consideration of their function and composition. In this paper, a new classification paradigm of EPS was proposed, which offered a novel approach to identify the role of EPS in the formation of activated sludge flocs. The current study gave an exploration to distinguish the EPS in the floc level (extra-microcolony polymers, EMPS) and in the microcolony level (extra-cellular polymers, ECPS). It was found that cation exchange resin treatment is efficient to disintegrate the flocs for EMPS extraction, however, inefficient to disaggregate the microcolonies for ECPS harvesting. A two-steps extraction strategy (cation exchange resin treatment followed by ultrasonication-high speed centrifugation treatment) was suggested to separate these two types of EPS in activated sludge flocs and the physicochemical characteristics of EMPS and ECPS were compared. The protein/polysaccharide ratio of ECPS was higher than that of EMPS and the molecular weight of proteins in EMPS and ECPS were found to be different. The ECPS contained higher molecular weight proteins and more hydrophobic substances than the EMPS contained. The result of excitation-emission matrix fluorescence spectroscopy analysis also showed that the EMPS and the ECPS have different fluorescent expressions and the components of EMPS were more diverse than that of ECPS. All results reported herein demonstrated that two different types of exopolymers exist in the activated sludge flocs and the inter-particle forces for aggregation of activated sludge flocs are not identical between the floc level and the microcolony level. It suggested that cation bridging interactions are more crucial in floc level flocculation, while the entanglement and hydrophobic interactions are more important in microcolony level cohesion. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Source

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