The nature of the carbon source rules the competition between PAO and denitrifiers in systems for simultaneous biological nitrogen and phosphorus removal

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Abstract

The presence of nitrate in the theoretical anaerobic reactor of a municipal WWTP aiming at simultaneous C, N and P removal usually leads to Enhanced Biological Phosphorus Removal (EBPR) failure due to the competition between PAO and denitrifiers for organic substrate. This problem was studied in a continuous anaerobic-anoxic-aerobic (A 2/O) pilot plant (146 L) operating with good removal performance and a PAO-enriched sludge (72%). Nitrate presence in the initially anaerobic reactor was studied by switching the operation of the plant to an anoxic-aerobic configuration. When the influent COD composition was a mixture of different carbon sources (acetic acid, propionic acid and sucrose) the system was surprisingly able to maintain EBPR, even with internal recycle ratios up to ten times the influent flow rate and COD limiting conditions. However, the utilisation of sucrose as sole carbon source resulted in a fast EBPR failure. Batch tests with different nitrate concentrations (0-40 mg L -1) were performed in order to gain insight into the competition for the carbon source in terms of P-release or denitrification rates and P-release/C-uptake ratio. Surprisingly, no inhibitory or detrimental effect on EBPR performance due to nitrate was observed. A model based on ASM2d but considering two step nitrification and denitrification was developed and experimentally validated. Simulation studies showed that anaerobic VFA availability is critical to maintain EBPR activity. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4793-4802
JournalWater Research
Volume45
Issue number16
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2011

Keywords

  • Carbon source
  • EBPR
  • Nitrate
  • OHO
  • PAO
  • VFA

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