Key Laboratory of Integrated Regulation and Resource Development on Shallow Lakes, Ministry of Education, College of Environment, Hohai University, Nanjing, 210098, China; Guangzhou Key Laboratory of Environmental Exposure and Health, School of Environment, Jinan University, Guangzhou, 510632, China. Electronic address: [Email]
Metabolic uncouplers are widely used for the in-situ reduction of excess sludge from activated sludge systems. However, the interaction mechanism between the metabolic uncouplers and extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) of activated sludge is unknown yet. In this study, the interactions between a typical metabolic uncoupler, o-chlorophenol (oCP), and the EPS extracted from activated sludge were explored using a suite of spectral methods. The binding constants calculated for the four peaks of three-dimensional excitation-emission matrix fluorescence were in a range of 1.24-1.76 × 103 L/mol, implying that the tyrosine protein-like substances governed the oCP-EPS interactions. Furthermore, the results of Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and 1H nuclear magnetic resonance indicated that the carboxyl, carbonyl, amine, and hydroxyl groups of EPS were the main functional groups involved in the formation of the oCP-EPS complex. The results of this study are useful for understanding the interactions between metabolic uncouplers and the EPS of activated sludge as well as their fates in biological wastewater treatment systems.