A pilot plant anaerobic/anoxic/oxic (A2/O) system fed with domestic wastewater was operated to examine the effect of varying different types of carbon source (acetic acid, propionic acid, and glucose), added as a complement to the wastewater, on the (1) process performance
and (2) microbial population. The operational condition that lead to a significant removal of total nitrogen (82%) was achieved with acetic acid. When the complementary carbon source was propionic acid, an improved removal efficiency of orthophosphate (97%) was observed. Because this finding
was concurrent with higher polyphosphate-accumulating organism (PAO) population fractions detected using fluorescent in situ hybridization analysis (41.9 ± 3.0%), it suggests that members of PAO populations that were able to reduce nitrate gained importance over PAO members that could
not, thus improving the denitrifying phosphorus removal.
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