Effect of the kinetics of ammonium and nitrite oxidation on nitritation success or failure for different biofilm reactor geometries

Susanne Lackner, Barth F. Smets

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The effect of biokinetics on nitritation was investigated in two biofilm geometries, the Membrane Aerated Biofilm Reactor (MABR) and a conventional biofilm system. A 1D biofilm model was used and evaluated by global sensitivity analysis using the variance based Sobol method. The main focus was on the influence of key biokinetic parameters (maximum specific growth rates, oxygen and nitrogen affinity constants of AOB (ammonium oxidizing bacteria) and NOB (nitrite oxidizing bacteria)) and their ratios on nitritation efficiency in these geometries. This exhaustive simulation study revealed that nitritation strongly depends on the chosen kinetic parameters of AOB and NOB. The maximum specific growth rates (μmax,AOB and μmax,NOB) had the strongest impact on nitritation efficiency (NE). In comparison, the counter-diffusion geometry yielded more parameter combinations (27.5%) that resulted in high NE than the co-diffusion geometry (7.9%). The oxygen concentrations at the relevant biofilm interfaces (membrane/biofilm for counter-diffusion or bulk/biofilm for co-diffusion) were not predictive of NE. However, the maximum allowable oxygen concentration to maintain higher NE was higher for the counter-diffusion geometry.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBiochemical Engineering Journal
Pages (from-to)123-129
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Nitritation
  • Biofilm modeling
  • Biofilm geometry
  • MABR
  • Oxygen affinity
  • Specific growth rate

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