Nowadays, wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are transforming into water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) where the resource recovery from waste streams is pivotal. Aerobic granular sludge (AGS) is a novel technology applied for wastewater treatment. Extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) secreted by microorganisms promote the aggregation of bacterial cells into AGS and the structural fraction of EPS (sEPS) is responsible for the mechanical properties of AGS. sEPS can be extracted and recovered from waste AGS by physico-chemical methods and its characterization is to date of relevant concern to understand the properties in the perspective of potential applications. This study reports on: characterization of sEPS extracted and recovered from AGS; - formation and characterization of sEPS-based hydrogels. Briefly, sEPS were extracted by a thermo-alkaline process followed by an acidic precipitation. sEPS-based hydrogels were formed by a cross-linking process with a 2.5% w/w CaCl2 solution. The following key-findings can be drawn: i) hydrogels can be formed starting from 1% w/w sEPS on, by diffusion of Ca2+ into sEPS network; ii) the Ca/C molar ratio of hydrogels decreased with increasing concentration of sEPS from 1 to 10% w/w; iii) the thermogravimetric and spectroscopic behaviours of sEPS show that the cross-linking reaction mainly involves the polysaccharidic fraction of biopolymers; iv) water-holding capacity up to 99 gH2O/gsEPS was registered for 1% w/w sEPS-based hydrogels, suggesting applications in several industrial sectors (i.e. chemical, paper, textile, agronomic, etc.); v) rheological results highlighted a solid-like behaviour (G'≫G") of sEPS-based hydrogels. The power-law fitting of G' vs. sEPS concentration suggests that the expansion of the sEPS network during cross-linking occurs through a percolative mechanism involving the initial formation of sEPS oligomers clusters followed by their interconnection towards the formation of 3D network. These findings provide additional information about the mechanisms of sEPS-based hydrogel formation and reveal the peculiar physico-chemical characteristics of sEPS which nowadays are increasingly gaining interest in the context of resource recovery.

Recovery of structural extracellular polymeric substances (sEPS) from aerobic granular sludge: Insights on biopolymers characterization and hydrogel properties for potential applications / Campo, Riccardo; Carretti, Emiliano; Lubello, Claudio; Lotti, Tommaso. - In: JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT. - ISSN 1095-8630. - ELETTRONICO. - 324:(2022), pp. 0-0. [10.1016/j.jenvman.2022.116247]

Recovery of structural extracellular polymeric substances (sEPS) from aerobic granular sludge: Insights on biopolymers characterization and hydrogel properties for potential applications

Campo, Riccardo
;
Carretti, Emiliano
;
Lubello, Claudio
;
Lotti, Tommaso
2022

Abstract

Nowadays, wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are transforming into water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) where the resource recovery from waste streams is pivotal. Aerobic granular sludge (AGS) is a novel technology applied for wastewater treatment. Extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) secreted by microorganisms promote the aggregation of bacterial cells into AGS and the structural fraction of EPS (sEPS) is responsible for the mechanical properties of AGS. sEPS can be extracted and recovered from waste AGS by physico-chemical methods and its characterization is to date of relevant concern to understand the properties in the perspective of potential applications. This study reports on: characterization of sEPS extracted and recovered from AGS; - formation and characterization of sEPS-based hydrogels. Briefly, sEPS were extracted by a thermo-alkaline process followed by an acidic precipitation. sEPS-based hydrogels were formed by a cross-linking process with a 2.5% w/w CaCl2 solution. The following key-findings can be drawn: i) hydrogels can be formed starting from 1% w/w sEPS on, by diffusion of Ca2+ into sEPS network; ii) the Ca/C molar ratio of hydrogels decreased with increasing concentration of sEPS from 1 to 10% w/w; iii) the thermogravimetric and spectroscopic behaviours of sEPS show that the cross-linking reaction mainly involves the polysaccharidic fraction of biopolymers; iv) water-holding capacity up to 99 gH2O/gsEPS was registered for 1% w/w sEPS-based hydrogels, suggesting applications in several industrial sectors (i.e. chemical, paper, textile, agronomic, etc.); v) rheological results highlighted a solid-like behaviour (G'≫G") of sEPS-based hydrogels. The power-law fitting of G' vs. sEPS concentration suggests that the expansion of the sEPS network during cross-linking occurs through a percolative mechanism involving the initial formation of sEPS oligomers clusters followed by their interconnection towards the formation of 3D network. These findings provide additional information about the mechanisms of sEPS-based hydrogel formation and reveal the peculiar physico-chemical characteristics of sEPS which nowadays are increasingly gaining interest in the context of resource recovery.
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Campo, Riccardo; Carretti, Emiliano; Lubello, Claudio; Lotti, Tommaso
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2158/1284525
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