Achievement of high rate nitritation with aerobic granular sludge reactors enhanced by sludge recirculation events

  • Zulkifly Jemaat
  • Josep Anton Tora
  • Albert Bartroli
  • Julián Carrera
  • Julio Perez
Research Article


A ratio control strategy has been used to demonstrate the feasibility of this automatic control procedure for the achievement of stable full and partial nitritation. The control strategy assured constant ratio between the dissolved oxygen (DO) and the total ammonia nitrogen (TAN) concentrations in the bulk liquid of aerobic granular sludge reactors operating in continuous mode. Three different set-ups with different reactor capacities were used (3, 110, and 150 L). High strength synthetic wastewaters and reject water were tested with similar performance. Achieved nitrogen loading rates ranged between 0.4 and 6.1 kgN·m−3·d−1, at temperatures between 20°C and 30°C. Granular sludge and nitritation were stable in the long term continuous operation of the reactors. Suitable stable effluent for Anammox has been obtained using the desired TAN setpoint (i.e. 50% of influent ammonium oxidation). An existing biofilm model developed incorporating the implemented control loops and validated in a previous publication was used to investigate the effects of the ammonium concentration of the influent and the biofilm density on the achievement of full nitritation. The model demonstrated how sludge recirculation events led to a stable and significant increase of the biomass concentration in the reactor, which in turn resulted in the achievement of high nitrogen loading rates, due to the action of the control strategy. The model predicted an enhancement of stable full nitritation at higher ammonium concentrations in the influent. Poor influence of the biofilm density in the achievement of full nitritation was predicted with the model.


partial nitrification reject water high strength ammonium wastewater closed-loop control 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Strous M, Fuerst J A, Kramer E H M, Logemann S, Muyzer G, van de Pas-Schoonen K T, Webb R, Kuenen J G, Jetten M S M. Missing lithotroph identified as new planctomycete. Nature, 1999, 400(6743): 446–449CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Volcke E I P, van Loosdrecht M C M, Vanrolleghem P A. Controlling the nitrite:ammonium ration in a SHARON reactor in view of its couping with an Anammox process. Water Science and Technology, 2006, 53(4–5): 45–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    van Hulle S W H, Vandeweyer H J P, Meesschaert B D, Vanrolleghem P A, Dejans P, Dumoulin A. Engineering aspects and practical application of autotrophic nitrogen removal from nitrogen rich streams. Chemical Engineering Journal, 2010, 162(1): 1–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Tokutomi T, Yamauchi H, Nishimura S, Yoda M, Abma W. Application of the nitritation and anammox process into inorganic nitrogenous wastewater. Journal of Environmental Engineering, 2011, 137(2): 146–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Third K A, Sliekers A O, Kuenen J G, Jetten M S M. The CANON system (Completely Autotrophic Nitrogen-removal Over Nitrite) under ammonium limitation: interaction and competition between three groups of bacteria. Systematic and Applied Microbiology, 2001, 24(4): 588–596CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    van der Star W, Abma W, Blommers D, Mulder J, Tokutomi T, Strous M, Picioreanu C, van Loosdrecht M C M. Startup of reactors for anoxic ammonium oxidation: Experiences from the first fullscale anammox reactor in Rotterdam.Water Research, 2007, 41(18): 4149–4163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Volcke E I P, van Loosdrecht MC M, Vanrolleghem P A. Interaction between control and design of a SHARON reactor: economic considerations in a plant-wide (BSM2) context. Water Science and Technology, 2007, 56(9): 117–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Sliekers A O, Third K A, Abma W, Kuenen J, Jetten M S. CANON and anammox in a gas-lift reactor. FEMS Microbiology Letters, 2003, 218(2): 339–344CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Joss A, Salzgeber D, Eugster J, König R, Rottermann K, Burger S, Fabijan P, Leumann S, Mohn J, Siegrist H. Full-scale nitrogen removal from digester liquid with partial nitritation and anammox in one SBR. Environmental Science & Technology, 2009, 43(14): 5301–5306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Garrido J M, van Benthum W A, van Loosdrecht M C, Heijnen J J. Influence of dissolved oxygen concentration on nitrite accumulation in a biofilm airlift suspension reactor. Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 1997, 53(2): 168–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Bernet N, Sanchez O, Cesbron D, Steyer J P, Delgenès J P. Modeling and control of nitrite accumulation in a nitrifying biofilm reactor. Biochemical Engineering Journal, 2005, 24(2): 173–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Bougard D, Bernet N, Dabert P, Delgenes J P, Steyer J P. Influence of closed loop control on microbial diversity in a nitrification process. Water Science and Technology, 2006, 53(4–5): 85–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Brockmann D, Morgenroth E. Evaluating operating conditions for outcompeting nitrite oxidizers and maintaining partial nitrification in biofilm systems using biofilm modeling and Monte Carlo filtering. Water Research, 2010, 44(6): 1995–2009CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Ganigué R, Volcke E I P, Puig S, Balaguer M D, Colprim J. 2012. Impact of influent characteristics on a partial nitritation SBR treating high nitrogen loaded wastewater. Bioresource Technology, 2012, 111: 62–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Bartrolí A, Pérez J, Carrera J. Applying ratio control in a continuous granular reactor to achieve full nitritation under stable operating conditions. Environmental Science & Technology, 2010, 44(23): 8930–8935CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Pijuan M, Torà J, Rodríguez-Caballero A, César E, Carrera J, Pérez J. Effect of process parameters and operational mode on nitrous oxide emissions from a nitritation reactor treating reject wastewater. Water Research, 2014, 49: 23–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Jemaat Z, Bartrolí A, Isanta E, Carrera J, Suárez-Ojeda ME, Pérez J. Closed-loop control of ammonium concentration in nitritation: convenient for reactor operation but also for modeling. Bioresource Technology, 2013, 128: 655–663CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Jemaat Z, Suárez-Ojeda M E, Pérez J, Carrera J. Partial nitritation and o-cresol removal with aerobic granular biomass in a continuous airlift reactor. Water Research, 2014, 48: 354–362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Bartrolí A, Carrera J, Pérez J. Bioaugmentation as a tool for improving the start-up and stability of a pilot-scale partial nitrification biofilm airlift reactor. Bioresource Technology, 2011, 102(6): 4370–4375CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Jemaat Z, Fernández I, Suárez-Ojeda M E, Pérez J, Carrera J. Could be feasible an autotrophic BNR process for treating complex industrial wastewaters containing ammonium and phenolic compounds? In: Proceedings of the IWA Nutrient Removal and Recovery 2012: Trends in NRR. Harbin, China: International Water Association, 2012, 116–117Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    American Publishers Health Association. Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater. Washington: APHA, 1995Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Wanner O, Reichert P. Mathematical modeling of mixed-culture biofilms. Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 1996, 49(2): 172–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Reichert P. AQUASIM 2.0-Computer program for the Identification and Simulation of Aquatic Systems, Version 2.0. Dubendorf, Switzerland: EAWAG, 1998Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Jubany I, Carrera J, Lafuente J, Baeza J A. Start-up of a nitrification system with automatic control to treat highly concentrated ammonium wastewater: Experimental results and modelling. Chemical Engineering Journal, 2008, 144(3): 407–419CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zulkifly Jemaat
    • 1
    • 3
  • Josep Anton Tora
    • 2
  • Albert Bartroli
    • 2
  • Julián Carrera
    • 1
  • Julio Perez
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Chemical Engineering, School of EngineeringUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Aeris Tecnologías AmbientalesEd. Eureka-Campus UABBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Faculty of Chemical & Natural Resources EngineeringUniversiti Malaysia Pahang, Lebuhraya Tun RazakKuantanMalaysia

Personalised recommendations