This paper shows the effect of organic shock loads (OSLs) on the anaerobic digestion (AD) of synthetic swine wastewater using an expanded granular sludge bed (EGSB) reactor modified with zeolite. Two reactors (R1 and R2), each with an effective volume of 3.04 L, were operated for 180 days at a controlled temperature of 30 °C and hydraulic retention time of 12 h. In the case of R2, 120 g of zeolite was added. The reactors were operated with an up-flow velocity of 6 m/h. The evolution of pH, total Kjeldahl nitrogen, chemical oxygen demand (COD) and volatile fatty acids (VFAs) was monitored during the AD process with OSL and increases in the organic loading rate (OLR). In addition, the microbial composition and changes in the structure of the bacterial and archaeal communities were assessed. The principal results demonstrate that the presence of zeolite in an EGSB reactor provides a more stable process at higher OLRs and after applying OSL, based on both COD and VFA accumulation, which presented with significant differences compared to the control. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis band profiles indicated differences in the populations of Bacteria and Archaea between the R1 and R2 reactors, attributed to the presence of zeolite.

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