Glycerol as a sole carbon source for enhanced biological phosphorus removal

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Wastewaters with low organic matter content are one of the major causes of EBPR failures in full-scale WWTP. This carbon source deficit can be solved by external carbon addition and glycerol is a perfect candidate since it is nowadays obtained in excess from biodiesel production. This work shows for the first time that glycerol-driven EBPR with a single-sludge SBR configuration is feasible (i.e. anaerobic glycerol degradation linked to P release and aerobic P uptake). Two different strategies were studied: direct replacement of the usual carbon source for glycerol and a two-step consortium development with glycerol anaerobic degraders and PAO. The first strategy provided the best results. The implementation of glycerol as external carbon source in full-scale WWTP would require a suitable anaerobic hydraulic retention time. An example using dairy wastewater with a low COD/P ratio confirms the feasibility of using glycerol as an external carbon source to increase P removal activity. The approach used in this work opens a new range of possibilities and, similarly, other fermentable substrates can be used as electron donors for EBPR. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2983-2991
JournalWater Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2012


  • Consortium
  • Enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR)
  • Glycerol
  • Polyphosphate accumulating organisms (PAO)
  • Volatile fatty acids (VFA)


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