The Development of Anaerobic Granulation

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The anaerobic granulation system has been known for its unique ability to convert highly objectionable wastes into useful products. With global concerns over energy shortages and greenhouse gas formation through combustion of fossil fuels, more efforts towards renewable energy supplies is clearly needed. Greater efforts are now needed for broader applications of anaerobic granulation system for relieving the environment of unwanted organic materials by converting them into methane, a renewable energy source. The anaerobic granulation process leading towards efficient methane production from wastewaters clearly fits this need.

At the moment, the most popular treatment process is the UASB reactor. However, with the recent development of EGSB and "staged multi-phase anaerobic" (SMPA) reactor systems, this may lead to a very promising new generations of anaerobic treatment system. These concepts behind the EGSB will provide a higher efficiency at higher loading rates, are applicable for extreme environmental conditions (e.g. low and high temperatures) and to inhibitory compounds. Moreover, by integrating the anaerobic process with other biological methods (sulfate reduction, microaerophilic organisms) and with physical-chemical methods, a complete treatment of the wastewater can be accomplished at very low costs, while at the same time valuable components can be recovered for reuse. Anaerobic treatment has developed into an established technology for a wide variety of industrial applications. As the waste strength tends to increase for industrial effluents, there is a need for development of anaerobic granular biomass-retaining reactors. The membrane bioreactors (MBR) with granular-based anaerobic processes may offer a solution for specific wastewater treatment which are worth exploring into.

Environmental regulations are oriented towards the sustainability of the production processes, and this leads to better recovery of resources from raw materials and by-products, energy saving, and so on. Granular sludge-based anaerobic processes have been receiving widespread recognition in their ability to offer high degree of organics removal, low sludge production, and low energy consumption along with energy production in the form of biogas. It may not be an unreasonable expectation that, in the future, the wastewater treatment technologies will experience a global shift towards usage of highly efficient granular sludge-based anaerobic processes.

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