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Operating Parameters for High Nitrite Accumulation during Nitrification in a Rotating Biological Nitrifying Contactor

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Incomplete nitrification was studied in a completely and partially submerged rotating biological contactor (RBC). In a partially submerged RBC without additional aeration, 50 to 90% nitrite accumulation (α) was achieved at rotation speeds (ω) of 2 to 18 min−1. In a completely submerged RBC operating during 80 days, a higher α of 96% was achieved at ω = 2 min−1. Incomplete nitrification in a completely submerged RBC at oxygen concentrations of 1.5 to 6.8 mg O2/L indicated that the mass transfer of oxygen is rate-limiting. Modeling of the completely submerged RBC predicts that the oxygen profile will not penetrate the biofilm more than 30 μm, thereby strongly limiting the nitrite-oxidizer growth and causing high nitrite accumulation. Molecular analysis (i.e., fluorescence in situ hybridization) indicated that the nitrite-oxidizers are superficially located (<200 μm) and that the ammonia-oxidizers comprise up to approximately 800 μm of the biofilm.

Keywords: biofilm; modeling; nitrification; nitrite accumulation; rotating biological contactor; rotating disk reactor

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 2007

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  • 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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