, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 377–385 | Cite as

Complete and simultaneous removal of ammonium and m-cresol in a nitrifying sequencing batch reactor

  • Alejandro ZepedaEmail author
  • Chérif Ben-Youssef
  • Susana Rincón
  • Flor Cuervo-López
  • Jorge Gómez
Original Paper


The kinetic behavior, oxidizing ability and tolerance to m-cresol of a nitrifying sludge exposed to different initial concentrations of m-cresol (0–150 mg C L−1) were evaluated in a sequencing batch reactor fed with 50 mg NH4 +-N L−1 and operated during 4 months. Complete removal of ammonium and m-cresol was achieved independently of the initial concentration of aromatic compound in all the assays. Up to 25 mg m-cresol-C L−1 (C/N ratio of 0.5), the nitrifying yield (Y-NO3 ) was 0.86 ± 0.05, indicating that the nitrate was the main product of the process; no biomass growth was detected. From 50 to 150 mg m-cresol-C L−1 (1.0 ≤ C/N ≤ 3.0), simultaneous microbial growth and partial ammonium-to-nitrate conversion were obtained, reaching a maximum microbial total protein concentration of 0.763 g L−1 (247 % of its initial value) and the lowest Y-NO3 0.53 ± 0.01 at 150 mg m-cresol-C L−1. m-Cresol induced a significant decrease in the values of both specific rates of ammonium and nitrite oxidation, being the ammonium oxidation pathway the mainly inhibited. The nitrifying sludge was able to completely oxidize up to 150 mg m-cresol-C L−1 by SBR cycle, reaching a maximum specific removal rate of 6.45 g m-cresol g−1 microbial protein-N h−1. The number of SBR cycles allowed a metabolic adaptation of the nitrifying consortium since nitrification inhibition decreased and faster oxidation of m-cresol took place throughout the cycles.


Nitrification Inhibition Oxidation m-Cresol Sequencing batch reactor 



This work was supported by CONACYT (169563) and PROMEP (103.5/07/2554; 103.5/10/5329).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alejandro Zepeda
    • 1
    Email author
  • Chérif Ben-Youssef
    • 2
  • Susana Rincón
    • 3
  • Flor Cuervo-López
    • 4
  • Jorge Gómez
    • 4
  1. 1.Facultad de Ingeniería Química Campus de Ingenierías y Ciencias ExactasUniversidad Autónoma de YucatánMéridaMéxico
  2. 2.Instituto Tecnológico de Cancún, DEPICancúnMéxico
  3. 3.Instituto Tecnológico de MéridaMéridaMéxico
  4. 4.Div. CBS, Departamento de BiotecnologíaUniversidad Autónoma Metropolitana-IztapalapaMéxicoMéxico

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