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Improving Nitrogen Removal in Two Modified Decentralized Wastewater Systems

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Efficient nutrient removal in decentralized wastewater treatment systems is a challenging task. To improve the removal of organic matter and nitrogen from wastewater, two types of bioreactors using membrane-aerated biofilm reactor (MABR) and microbial fuel cell (MFC) techniques were evaluated. During more than 250 days of continuous-flow reactor operation, both reactors showed consistently high chemical oxygen demand removal (>86%). At an influent ammonium-nitrogen (NH4 +-N) concentration of 30 mg N/L, the average effluent NH4 +-N concentrations were 6.2 and 0.5 mg N/L for the MABR and MFC reactor, respectively, while the effluent nitrate-nitrogen (NO3 -N) concentrations were 5.4 mg/L in the MABR and 19.2 mg/L in the MFC-based reactor. The overall total inorganic nitrogen removal efficiencies were 64% and 36% for the MABR and MFC reactor, respectively. At the measured dissolved oxygen concentrations of 5.2 and 0.23 mg/L in the aerobic/anoxic zone of the MFC and MABR, respectively, a specific oxygen uptake rate of 0.1 g O2/g VSS·d, resulting from ammonia oxidation, was detected in the settled sludge of the MFC, while no nitrifying activity of the sludge from the MABR was detected. Molecular microbial analysis demonstrated a link between the bacterial community structure and nitrifying activity. The relatively high abundance of Nitrosomonas europaea was associated with its detectable nitrification activity in the settled sludge of the MFC. The results suggest that MABR and MFC techniques have the potential to improve organic and nitrogen removal in decentralized wastewater systems.

Keywords: biological nutrient removal; decentralized wastewater treatment; membrane-aerated biofilm reactor; microbial fuel cell; nitrifying bacterial community

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2011-08-01

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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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