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Simultaneous Nitrification, Denitrification, and Phosphorus Removal in Single-Tank Low-Dissolved-Oxygen Systems Under Cyclic Aeration

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Simultaneous nitrification and denitrification (SND or SNdN) may occur at low dissolved oxygen concentrations. In this study, bench-scale (approximately 6 L) bioreactors treating a continuous feed of synthetic wastewater were used to evaluate the effects of solids retention time and low dissolved oxygen concentration, under cyclic aeration, on the removal of organics, nitrogen, and phosphorus. The cyclic aeration was carried out with repeated cycles of 1 hour at a higher dissolved oxygen concentration (HDO) and 30 minutes at a lower (or zero) dissolved oxygen concentration (LDO). Compared with aeration at constant dissolved oxygen concentrations, the cyclic aeration, when operated with proper combinations of HDO and LDO, produced better-settling sludge and more complete nitrogen and phosphorus removal. For nitrogen removal, the advantage resulted from the more readily available nitrate and nitrite (generated by nitrification during the HDO period) for denitrification (during the LDO period). For phosphorus removal, the advantage of cyclic aeration came from the development of a higher population of polyphosphate-accumulating organisms, as indicated by the higher phosphorus contents in the sludge solids of the cyclically aerated systems. Nitrite shunt was also observed to occur in the LDO systems. Higher ratios of nitrite to nitrate were found in the systems of lower HDO (and, to less dependency, higher LDO), suggesting that the nitrite shunt took place mainly because of the disrupted nitrification at lower HDO. The study results indicated that the HDO used should be kept reasonably high (approximately 0.8 mg/L) or the HDO period prolonged, to promote adequate nitrification, and the LDO kept low (≤0.2 mg/L), to achieve more complete denitrification and higher phosphorus removal. The above findings in the laboratory systems find strong support from the results obtained in full-scale plant implementation. Two plant case studies using the cyclic low-dissolved-oxygen aeration for creating and maintaining SND are also presented.

Keywords: cyclic aeration; enhanced biological phosphorus removal; low dissolved oxygen concentration; nitrite shunt; simultaneous nitrification and denitrification; solids retention time

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2007-08-01

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  • Water Environment Research (WER) is published monthly, including an annual Literature Review. A subscription to WER includes access to the latest content back to 1992, as well as access to fast track articles. An individual subscription is valid for 12 months from month of purchase.

    Water Environment Research (WER) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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