Waste and Biomass Valorization

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 1065–1082 | Cite as

Acclimation Process for Enhancing Polyhydroxyalkanoate Accumulation in Activated-Sludge Biomass

  • Fernando Morgan-SagastumeEmail author
  • Francesco Valentino
  • Markus Hjort
  • Giulio Zanaroli
  • Mauro Majone
  • Alan Werker
Original Paper


A strategy was evaluated for conditioning activated sludge biomass to a new substrate whereby the polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) accumulation capacity of the biomass was enhanced based on a series of aerobic feast–famine acclimation cycles applied prior to PHA accumulation. Different biomass types enriched during the treatment of municipal wastewater at laboratory, pilot, and full scales were exposed to aerobic feast–famine acclimation cycles at different feast-to-famine ratios with an acetate–propionate mixture (laboratory scale), acetate (pilot scale), and fermented waste–sludge centrate (pilot scale). A sevenfold increase in specific PHA storage rates and 20% increase in substrate utilization rates were observed during acclimation cycles (laboratory acetate–propionate). Biomass acclimation led to more than doubling of the specific substrate utilization rates, PHA storage rates, biomass PHA contents, and specific PHA productivities (per initial biomass) during PHA accumulation. The biomass PHA contents were found to increase due to acclimation from 0.19 to 0.34 (laboratory acetate–propionate), 0.39 to 0.46 (pilot acetate) and 0.19 to 0.25 gPHA/gVSS (pilot centrate). A similar bacterial community structure during acclimation indicated that a physiological rather than a genotypic adaptation occurred in the biomass. The physiological state of the biomass at the start of PHA accumulation was deemed significant in the subsequent PHA-accumulation performance. Positive acclimation trends can be monitored by measuring the relative increase in feast substrate utilization or respiration rates with respect to those of the first acclimation cycle.


PHA production Feast–famine Mixed cultures Adaptation Physiological state Substrate 



This work was partially funded by the EU ROUTES project (Contract No. 265156, FP7 2007–2013, THEME [ENV.2010.3.1.1-2] Innovative system solutions for municipal sludge treatment and management).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fernando Morgan-Sagastume
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Francesco Valentino
    • 3
  • Markus Hjort
    • 1
  • Giulio Zanaroli
    • 4
  • Mauro Majone
    • 3
  • Alan Werker
    • 1
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Veolia Water Technologies AB (AnoxKaldnes)LundSweden
  2. 2.Waste Science and TechnologyLuleå University of TechnologyLuleåSweden
  3. 3.Department of ChemistrySapienza University of RomeRomeItaly
  4. 4.Department of Civil, Chemical, Environmental and Materials Engineering (DICAM)University of BolognaBolognaItaly
  5. 5.School of Chemical EngineeringUniversity of QueenslandSt. LuciaAustralia
  6. 6.Promiko ABLommaSweden

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