With new EEC regulations, alternative treatment and disposal techniques of the excess sludge produced by Activated Sludge (AS) wastewater treatment plants have to be performed. In order to reduce the excess sludge produced, experiments have been carried out with a Membrane BioReactor (MBR) to study the maintenance and cryptic growth phenomena of Pseudomonas fluorescens culture taken as a model when grown on a limiting substrate complex medium similar to a synthetic urban wastewater. Experiments with various imposed wasting rates showed that viability and sludge production yield decreased when sludge age increased. Same variations were observed on the cell content ratio protein/polysaccharide by analysis of the cell lysis products released after discontinuous thermal treatment. Biomass growth on these cell lysis products was achieved to characterize cryptic growth and its impact on sludge production yield. Finally, a continuous sludge thermal treatment system was operating with MBR to amplify sludge breakage and consequently biomass growth on the lysis products. With the promising results obtained, this work gives a new outlook on the AS process and leads to the development of processes with control and reduction of sludge production.

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