Modeling of simultaneous anaerobic methane and ammonium oxidation in a membrane biofilm reactor

Xueming Chen, Jianhua Guo, Ying Shi, Shihu Hu, Zhiguo Yuan, Bing Jie Ni*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Nitrogen removal by using the synergy of denitrifying anaerobic methane oxidation (DAMO) and anaerobic ammonium oxidation (Anammox) microorganisms in a membrane biofilm reactor (MBfR) has previously been demonstrated experimentally. In this work, a mathematical model is developed to describe the simultaneous anaerobic methane and ammonium oxidation by DAMO and Anammox microorganisms in an MBfR for the first time. In this model, DAMO archaea convert nitrate, both externally fed and/or produced by Anammox, to nitrite, with methane as the electron donor. Anammox and DAMO bacteria jointly remove the nitrite fed/produced, with ammonium and methane as the electron donor, respectively. The model is successfully calibrated and validated using the long-term (over 400 days) dynamic experimental data from the MBfR, as well as two independent batch tests at different operational stages of the MBfR. The model satisfactorily describes the methane oxidation and nitrogen conversion data from the system. Modeling results show the concentration gradients of methane and nitrogen would cause stratification of the biofilm, where Anammox bacteria mainly grow in the biofilm layer close to the bulk liquid and DAMO organisms attach close to the membrane surface. The low surface methane loadings result in a low fraction of DAMO microorganisms, but the high surface methane loadings would lead to overgrowth of DAMO bacteria, which would compete with Anammox for nitrite and decrease the fraction of Anammox bacteria. The results suggest an optimal methane supply under the given condition should be applied not only to benefit the nitrogen removal but also to avoid potential methane emissions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number16
Pages (from-to)9540-9547
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


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