Nitrifying population dynamics in a redox stratified membrane biofilm reactor (RSMBR) for treating ammonium-rich wastewater

  • Rongchang WangEmail author
  • Xinmin Zhan
  • Yalei Zhang
  • Jianfu Zhao
Research Article


Nitrogen removal performance and nitrifying population dynamics were investigated in a redox stratified membrane biofilm reactor (RSMBR) under oxygen limited condition to treat ammonium-rich wastewater. When the NHt 4 + -N loading rate increased from 11.1±1.0 to 37:2 ± 3:2 gNHt 4 + -N·m−2·d−1, the nitrogen removal in the RSMBR system increased from 18.0±9.6 mgN·d−1 to 128.9±61.7 mgN·d−1. Shortcut nitrogen removal was achieved with nitrite accumulation of about 22:3 ± 5:3 mgNO 2 -N·L−1. Confocal micrographs showed the stratified distributions of nitrifiers and denitrifiers in the membrane aerated biofilms (MABs) at day 120, i.e., ammonia and nitrite oxidizing bacteria (AOB and NOB) were dominant in the region adjacent to the membrane, while heterotrophic bacteria propagated at the top of the biofilm. Real-time qPCR results showed that the abundance of amoA gene was two orders of magnitude higher than the abundance of nxrA gene in the MABs. However, the nxrA gene was always detected during the operation time, which indicates the difficulty of complete washout of NOB in MABs. The growth of heterotrophic bacteria compromised the dominance of nitrifiers in biofilm communities, but it enhanced the denitrification performance of the RSMBR system. Applying a high ammonia loading together with oxygen limitation was found to be an effective way to start nitrite accumulation in MABs, but other approaches were needed to sustain or improve the extent of nitritation in nitrogen conversion in MABs.


ammonium-rich wastewater membrane bio-film reactor nitrification redox stratification shortcut nitrogen removal 


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Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rongchang Wang
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Xinmin Zhan
    • 1
  • Yalei Zhang
    • 2
  • Jianfu Zhao
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Civil EngineeringNational University of IrelandGalwayIreland
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Pollution Control and Resource Reuse, Key Laboratory of Yangtze Aquatic Environment, Ministry of Education of China, College of Environmental Science and EngineeringTongji UniversityShanghaiChina

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