Nitrogen Removal from Digested Black Water by One-stage Partial Nitritation and Anammox

S.E. Vlaeminck, Akihiko Terada, Barth F. Smets, D. van der Linden, N. Boon, W. Verstraete, M. Carballa

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This study assessed the technical feasibility to treat digested black water from vacuum toilets (> 1000 mg NH4+-N L-1) in a lab-scale oxygen-limited autotrophic nitrification/denitrification (OLAND) rotating biological contactor. After an adaptation period of 2.5 months, a stable. nitrogen removal rate of ca. 700 mg N L-1 d(-1) was reached over the subsequent 5 months. Suppression of the nitrite oxidizing bacteria at free ammonia levels above 3 mg N L-1 resulted in a nitrogen removal efficiency of 76%. The favorable ratios of both organic and inorganic carbon to nitrogen guaranteed endured anammox activity and sufficient buffering capacity, respectively. Quantitative FISH showed that aerobic and anoxic ammonium-oxidizing bacteria (AerAOB and AnAOB) made up 43 and 8% of the biofilm, respectively. Since a part of the AerAOB was probably present in anoxic biofilm zones, their specific ammonium conversion was very low, in contrast to the high specific AnAOB activity. DGGE analysis showed that the dominant AerAOB and AnAOB species were resistant to the transition from synthetic medium to digested black water. This study demonstrates high-rate nitrogen removal from digested black water by one-stage partial nitritation and anammox, which will allow a significant decrease in operational costs compared to conventional nitrification/denitrification.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology (Washington)
Issue number13
Pages (from-to)5035-5041
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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