Short sludge age denitrification as alternative process for energy and nutrient recovery

Vishal Tirkey, Estelle M. Goonesekera, Adam Kovalovszki, Barth F. Smets, Arnaud Dechesne, Borja Valverde-Pérez*

*Corresponding author for this work

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High rate activated sludge (HRAS) systems redirect organics into highly biodegradable sludge and nutrients into microbial proteins. This study evaluates anoxic HRAS for nitrogen and carbon recovery. The reactor treated synthetic wastewater at solids retention times (SRTs) of 5, 3 and 1 days. Denitrification rates varied between 0.15 and 0.19 g-NO3-N g-TSS-1 d-1 (total suspended solids per day) and all conditions showed favourable settling. The highest sludge yield, obtained at SRT 1 d, was 0.75 g-TSS g-COD-1removed, double that observed for aerobic HRAS. The highest methane yield (322 mL-CH4 g-VS-1sludge) was obtained from sludge wasted at 3 d SRT. Both 1 d and 3 d SRTs showed favourable energy recovery, with 14 % of the organics recovered as methane. All conditions yielded sludge with protein content ranging between 24 and 27 % of dry weight and similar amino acid profile, comparable to traditional proteins. Thus, denitrifying HRAS recovers resources as its aerobic counterpart, allowing for nitrogen removal via denitrification, more stable compared to mainstream partial nitritation anammox typically combined with aerobic HRAS.
Original languageEnglish
Article number128184
JournalBioresource Technology
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Resource recovery
  • High rate denitrifying sludge
  • Biogas
  • Microbial protein


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