Environmental Biotechnology Network

EBNet Working Group: Aerobic Granulation Processes


The purpose of this WG is to extend knowledge and awareness of AG processes from microbiological fundamentals to engineering application and control, by bringing engineers, microbiologists and industry together, in order to improve AG processes and performance and promote the adoption of AG technology.

orange granular sludge granules in petri dish
Aerobic granular sludge

Aerobic granular sludge (AG) is a relatively novel technology, which can enhance or replace conventional activated sludge. AG technology is at the early stages of commercialisation and the UK is planning, constructing and operating 11 AG-based wastewater treatment plants – including Europe’s largest AG plant, with a capacity of 321,500 PE. The widespread adoption of this technology is not as rapid as expected, however. One of the most important reasons is that the fundamental knowledge base remains insufficient. Mechanisms regarding aerobic granulation, maintenance of long-term structural stability and simultaneous carbon /nutrient removal are still unclear. This knowledge gap represents a level of uncertainty/risk which could restrict further adoption in new plants or limit the flexibility to retrofit existing continuous aeration tanks to AG-based operation. Given the multiple advantages that AG could bring to wastewater treatment compared with activated sludge, and its early commercial adoption stage, it is necessary and timely to form a working group (WG) to bring forward this novel technology to benefit academia, the water industry and society.


Dr Yongqiang Liu - Lecturer in Environmental Engineering

Contact the Working Group co-ordinator:

Dr Yongqiang Liu, Lecturer in Environmental Engineering within Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Southampton. Email: Y.Liu[at]soton.ac.uk with “EBNet Working Group” in the subject in the first instance.

WG Activities

• EBNet Webinar: Aerobic granulation in continuous operating mode and its commercialisation
17th November 2022 12.30-13.30 (GMT). Register HERE.
Featuring – – Dr Sudhir Murthy, NEWhub Corp. Dr. Sudhir Murthy is Chief Executive Officer of NEWhub Corp. He is also an Adjunct Senior Research Scientist at Columbia University and Senior-Vice President of the International Water Association (IWA). Chaired by – Dr Yongqiang Liu.

Processes – Special Issue opportunity

(Picture by Marcin Jozwiak at Pexels)

The journal Processes has a Special Issue coming out on “Environmental Protection by Aerobic Granular Sludge Process“.
It aims to discuss novel advances in the development and study of process control, optimization, and scaling up for the AGSP. Topics include, but are not limited to:
•    Strategies for a fast and stable granulation process
•    Strategies to maintain granule stability and identification of key parameters
•    Strategies for stable nutrient removal and resource recovery
•    Process optimization for the removal of challenging pollutants with the AGSP
•    Process scaling up
•    Process modelling
Dr Yongqiang Liu, AGSP Working Group co-ordinator, is a Guest Editor. Details of the issue are here and deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 July 2021 – NOW 31 DECEMBER 2021.

If you are a UK academic and need EBNet financial support for the Article Publishing Charge (APC), please contact Dr Liu.

Initial scoping activity

• EBNet Webinar: Aerobic Granules in Waste Water Treatment
Chaired by – Dr Yongqiang Liu.
Featuring – Assistant Prof Zhiwu (Drew) Wang, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University & Professor Jeremy Webb, National Biofilms Innovation Centre (NBIC), University of Southampton.

• EBNet Webinar: Sustainable Biological Removal of N and P
Chaired by – Dr Yongqiang Liu.
Featuring – Juhani Kostiainen, Plantwork Systems Ltd. & Professor Ana Soares, Cranfield University.

EBNet supported networking:

• Conference attendance: IWA Biofilms Conference

• Site visit and sampling – 2nd July 2021


Environmental Protection through Aerobic Granular Sludge Process
By: Yong-Qiang In: Processes 2024, 12(2), 243; Special Issue Environmental Protection by Aerobic Granular Sludge Process

Hydroxyapatite Precipitation and Accumulation in Granules and Its Effects on Activity and Stability of Partial Nitrifying Granules at Moderate and High Temperatures
Yong-Qiang Liu and Simone Cinquepalmi
In Processes 2021, 9(10), 1710

Exploration of mechanisms for calcium phosphate precipitation and accumulation in nitrifying granules by investigating the size effects of granules
Yong-Qiang Liu and Simone Cinquepalmi 
In Water Research, p.117753. (Available until 9 Dec 2021) 

The aerial view of NUTREM® plant with two SBRs for sewage treatment
Water sample before and after treatment