Impact of granule size distribution on nitrous oxide production in autotrophic nitrogen removal granular reactor

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This work applied an approach with reactor compartmentation and artificial diffusion to study the impact of granule size distribution on the autotrophic granular reactor performing partial nitritation and anaerobic ammonium oxidation with focus on the nitrous oxide (N2O) production. The results show that the microbial community and the associated N2O production rates in the granular structure are significantly influenced by the granule size distribution. Heterotrophic bacteria growing on microbial decay products tend to be retained and contribute to N2O consumption in relatively small granules. Ammonium-oxidizing bacteria are mainly responsible for N2O production via two pathways in granules of different sizes. Under the conditions studied, such heterogeneity in the granular structure disappears when the number of granule size classes considered reaches >4, where heterotrophic bacteria are completely outcompeted in the granules. In general, larger granules account for a higher portion of the net N2O production, while the trend regarding the volumetric contribution of each granule size class changes with a varied number of granule size classes, due to the different contributions of relevant N2O production pathways (with the heterotrophic denitrification pathway being the most decisive). Overall, with the increasing extent of granule size distribution, the nitrogen removal efficiency decreases slightly but consistently, whereas the N2O production factor increases until the number of granule size classes reaches 4 or above. Practical implications of this work include: i) granules should be controlled as well-distributed as possible in order to obtain high nitrogen removal while minimizing N2O production; ii) granule size distribution should be considered carefully and specifically when modelling N2O production/emission from the autotrophic nitrogen removal granular reactor.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Pages (from-to)700-708
Publication statusPublished - 2019
CitationsWeb of Science® Times Cited: No match on DOI

    Research areas

  • Autotrophic nitrogen removal granular reactor, Granule size distribution, Modelling, N2O production factor

ID: 185176902