Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 22, Issue 13, pp 10179–10188 | Cite as

Nitrite accumulation during denitrification depends on the carbon quality and quantity in wastewater treatment with biofilters

  • Vincent Rocher
  • Anniet M. Laverman
  • Johnny Gasperi
  • Sam AzimiEmail author
  • Sabrina Guérin
  • Stéphane Mottelet
  • Thierry Villières
  • André Pauss
Research Article


This study aims to understand the mechanisms of nitrite appearance during wastewater denitrification by biofilters, focusing on the role of the carbon source. Experiments were carried out at lab-scale (batch tests) and full-scale plant (Parisian plant, capacities of 240,000 m3 day−1). Results showed that the nature of the carbon source affects nitrite accumulation rates. This accumulation is low, 0.05 to 0.10 g N-NO2 per g N-NO3 eliminated, for alcohols such as methanol, ethanol, or glycerol. The utilization of glycerol leads to fungal development causing clogging of the biofilters. This fungal growth and consequent clogging exclude this carbon source, with little nitrite accumulation, as carbon source for denitrification. Whatever the carbon source, the C/N ratio in the biofilter plays a major role in the appearance of residual nitrite; an optimal C/N ratio from 3.0 to 3.2 allows a complete denitrification without any nitrite accumulation.


Biofilters Denitrification Nitrite Wastewater treatment 



The authors would like to thank Céline Briand (research technician at the Direction du Développement et de la Prospective) for her technical support.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vincent Rocher
    • 1
  • Anniet M. Laverman
    • 2
  • Johnny Gasperi
    • 3
  • Sam Azimi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sabrina Guérin
    • 1
  • Stéphane Mottelet
    • 4
  • Thierry Villières
    • 5
  • André Pauss
    • 4
  1. 1.SIAAP-Direction du Développement et de la ProspectiveColombesFrance
  2. 2.Université Rennes 1, CNRS EcoBio UMR 6553RennesFrance
  3. 3.Université Paris-Est, LEESU, UMR MA 102-AgroParisTechCedexFrance
  4. 4.Centre de Recherche RoyallieuUniversité de Technologique de CompiègneCedexFrance
  5. 5.SECOMAMCedexFrance

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