Nitrogen removal from wastewater by coupling anammox and methane-dependent denitrification in a membrane biofilm reactor

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  • Ying Shi
  • Shihu Hu
  • Juqing Lou
  • Peili Lu
  • Jurg Keller


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11577-11583
Journal / PublicationEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


This work demonstrates, for the first time, the feasibility of nitrogen removal by using the synergy of anammox and denitrifying anaerobic methane oxidation (DAMO) microorganisms in a membrane biofilm reactor (MBfR). The reactor was fed with synthetic wastewater containing nitrate and ammonium. Methane was delivered from the interior of hollow fibres in the MBfR to the biofilm that grew on the fiber's outer wall. After 24 months of operation, the system achieved a nitrate and an ammonium removal rate of about 190 mgN L -1 d-1 (or 86 mgN m-2 d-1, with m2 referring to biofilm surface area) and 60 mgN L-1 d-1 (27 mgN m-2 d-1), respectively. No nitrite accumulation was observed. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis indicated that DAMO bacteria (20-30%), DAMO archaea (20-30%) and anammox bacteria (20-30%) jointly dominated the microbial community. Based on the known metabolism of these microorganisms, mass balance, and isotope studies, we hypothesize that DAMO archaea converted nitrate, both externally fed and produced by anammox, to nitrite, with methane as the electron donor. Anammox and DAMO bacteria jointly removed the nitrite produced, with ammonium and methane as the electron donor, respectively. The process could potentially be used for anaerobic nitrogen removal from wastewater streams containing ammonium and nitrate/nitrite. © 2013 American Chemical Society.

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