Enhanced biological nitrogen removal and N2O emission characteristics of the intermittent aeration activated sludge process

  • Yuepeng Sun
  • Yuntao Guan
  • Min Pan
  • Xinmin Zhan
  • Zhenhu Hu
  • Guangxue WuEmail author
review paper


Enhanced biological nitrogen removal processes are necessarily required to cope with more stringent wastewater discharging regulations, especially for wastewater with low level of organic carbon to nitrogen ratios. The intermittent aeration activated sludge process has been received comprehensive attention over the past decades, due to its excellent performance in nitrogen removal and remarkable reduction of energy consumption. Recent advances for this technology was reviewed from aspects of characteristics of system, factors affecting nitrogen removal, nitrous oxide (N2O) emission and its control, and application of the technology and its operation control. Finally, future development was proposed. In the intermittent aeration activated sludge process, aeration duration should be controlled for adequate nitrification and non-aeration duration should be adequate for complete denitrification, and these would benefit both nitrogen removal and N2O mitigation. The step feed strategy could be applied to enhance the better utilization of influent organic carbon for nitrogen removal. Dissolved oxygen (DO) and aerobic duration both affected nitrogen removal in particular that via nitrite in the intermittent aeration process. Nitrite should be removed efficiently to avoid a high N2O emission under both anoxic and aerobic conditions. Intermittent aeration activated sludge process has been applied in the treatment of various wastewaters, such as municipal wastewater, swine wastewater, anaerobic effluents and landfill leachate. For practical application, DO, pH and oxidation–reduction potential could be used as indices for controlling nitrogen removal and N2O mitigation. Microbial ecology in the intermittent aeration activated sludge process should be specifically focused in future studies.


Biological nitrogen removal Intermittent aeration System control Nitrous oxide emission Nitrite accumulation 



This research was supported by the Shenzhen Science and Technology Development Funding for International Cooperation (Grant No. GJHZ20160226191632089) and Shenzhen Science and Technology Plan-Fundamental Research (Grant No. JCYJ20150331151358156).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Microorganism Application and Risk Control (MARC) of Shenzhen, Graduate School at ShenzhenTsinghua UniversityShenzhenChina
  2. 2.Environmental Science and Technology, Xiamen University of TechnologyXiamenChina
  3. 3.Civil Engineering, College of Engineering and InformaticsNational University of IrelandGalwayIreland
  4. 4.School of Civil EngineeringHefei University of TechnologyHefeiChina

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