The combined effect of carbon source and nitrogen loading rate (NLR) on denitrification and sludge granular settleability in upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) bench-scale reactors was studied. Acetate, lactate and glucose were used as carbon sources for denitrification. Three NLR were evaluated: 500, 1000 and 2000 mg NO3-N/ld. It was found that NO3-N consumption efficiency was 99% for all the cases. Denitrification efficiencies were high (85-96%) for all substrates and NLR tested, but specific denitrifying rates were a better representation of the denitrifying process. The results showed that specific denitrifying rate was dependent on type of carbon source and NLR. It was also found that sludge settleability and reactor stability was influenced by the carbon source. The use of acetate did not influence the sludge settleability while, sludge flotation was always observed when lactate was used as carbon source. Foaming was present when glucose was used, causing reactor unstability. An increase in the exopolymeric protein and carbohydrate content was observed when lactate and glucose were fed, in comparison with acetate as carbon source. Results obtained in this work suggest that the exopolymeric composition here referred to as protein/carbohydrate ratio (P/C) could be a better stability indicator than the sludge volumetric index (SVI).

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