Adaptation of anammox process for nitrogen removal from acidic nitritation effluent in a low pH moving bed biofilm reactor

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Author(s)

  • Zhetai Hu
  • Tao Liu
  • Zicheng Su
  • Jing Zhao
  • Jianhua Guo
  • Shihu Hu
  • Min Zheng

Related Research Unit(s)

Detail(s)

Original languageEnglish
Article number120370
Journal / PublicationWater Research
Volume243
Online published18 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023

Link(s)

Abstract

Acidic partial nitritation (PN) has emerged to be a promisingly stable process in wastewater treatment, which can simultaneously achieve nitrite accumulation and about half of ammonium reduction. However, directly applying anaerobic ammonium oxidation (anammox) process to treat the acidic PN effluent (pH 4−5) is susceptible to the inhibition of anammox bacteria. Here, this study demonstrated the adaptation of anammox process to acidic pH in a moving bed biofilm reactor (MBBR). By feeding the laboratory-scale MBBR with acidic PN effluent (pH = 4.6 ± 0.2), the pH of an anammox reactor was self-sustained in the range of pH 5 − 6. Yet, a high total nitrogen removal efficiency of over 80% at a practical loading rate of up to 149.7 ± 3.9 mg N/L/d was achieved. Comprehensive microbial assessment, including amplicon sequencing, metagenomics, cryosection-FISH, and qPCR, identified that Candidatus Brocadia, close to known neutrophilic members, was the dominant anammox bacteria. Anammox bacteria were found present in the inner layer of thick biofilms but barely present in the surface layer of thick biofilms and in thin biofilms. Results from batch tests also showed that the activity of anammox biofilms could be maintained when subjected to pH 5 at a nitrite concentration of 10 mg N/L, whereas the activity was completely inhibited after disturbing the biofilm structure. These results collectively indicate that the anammox bacteria enriched in the present acidic MBBR could not be inherently acid-tolerant. Instead, the achieved stable anammox performance under the acidic condition is likely due to biofilm stratification and protection. This result highlights the biofilm configuration as a useful solution to address nitrogen removal from acidic PN effluent, and also suggests that biofilm may play a critical role in protecting anammox bacteria found in many acidic nature environments. © 2023 The Author(s)

Research Area(s)

  • Anammox, Biofilm, Free nitrous acid, Low pH, Nitrogen removal, Wastewater treatment

Citation Format(s)

Adaptation of anammox process for nitrogen removal from acidic nitritation effluent in a low pH moving bed biofilm reactor. / Hu, Zhetai; Liu, Tao; Su, Zicheng et al.
In: Water Research, Vol. 243, 120370, 01.09.2023.

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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