Nitrification is a two-step process that involves two different biomass populations: ammonia oxidising biomass (AOB) and nitrite oxidising biomass (NOB). Both populations are autotrophic (i.e. their carbon source is inorganic). Therefore, a deficit of this substrate should result in a decrease of the process rate. Recent technology advances such as the SHARON® process have brought new scenarios in biological nitrogen removal where these limitations should be considered. Hence, this work examines the inorganic carbon limitation using respirometric and titrimetric techniques. For this aim, the nitrification rate was measured at different total inorganic carbon (TIC) concentrations. The experimental results obtained show that AOB was limited at TIC concentrations lower than 3 mmol C L-1. At the same time, no carbon source limitation for NOB was observed in spite of the low TIC concentrations attained (lower than 0.1 mmol C L-1). The AOB limitation could be successfully modelled using Monod, Tessier and sigmoidal kinetics. The best fit was obtained with sigmoidal kinetics. However, unexpected biomass activity (oxygen consumption) was observed despite a very low TIC concentration (lower than 0.1 mmol C L-1). © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-286
JournalWater Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007


  • Inorganic carbon limitation
  • Modelling
  • Nitrification
  • Respirometry
  • Titrimetry


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