Achieving stable nitritation for mainstream deammonification by combining free nitrous acid-based sludge treatment and oxygen limitation
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Stable nitritation is a critical bottleneck for achieving autotrophic nitrogen removal using the energy-saving mainstream deammonification process. Herein we report a new strategy to wash out both the Nitrospira sp. and Nitrobacter sp. from the treatment of domestic-strength wastewater. The strategy combines sludge treatment using free nitrous acid (FNA) with dissolved oxygen (DO) control in the nitritation reactor. Initially, the nitrifying reactor achieved full conversion of NH4+ to NO3−. Then, nitrite accumulation at ~60% was achieved in the reactor when 1/4 of the sludge was treated daily with FNA at 1.82 mg N/L in a side-stream unit for 24 h. Fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH) revealed FNA treatment substantially reduced the abundance of nitrite oxidizing bacteria (NOB) (from 23.0 ± 4.3 to 5.3 ± 1.9%), especially that of Nitrospira sp. (from 15.7 ± 3.9 to 0.4 ± 0.1%). Nitrite accumulation increased to ~80% when the DO concentration in the mainstream reactor was reduced from 2.5–3.0 to 0.3–0.8 mg/L. FISH revealed the DO limitation further reduced the abundance of NOB (to 2.1 ± 1.0%), especially that of Nitrobacter sp. (from 4.9 ± 1.2 to 1.8 ± 0.8%). The strategy developed removes a major barrier for deammonification in low-strength domestic wastewater.
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Environmental Biotechnology not elsewhere classified