Completely autotrophic nitrogen removal over nitrite in one single reactor

A. Olav Sliekers, N. Derwort, J. L.Campos Gomez, M. Strous, J. G. Kuenen, M. S.M. Jetten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

609 Scopus citations


The microbiology and the feasibility of a new, single-stage, reactor for completely autotrophic ammonia removal were investigated. The reactor was started anoxically after inoculation with biomass from a reactor performing anaerobic ammonia oxidation (Anammox). Subsequently, oxygen was supplied to the reactor and a nitrifying population developed. Oxygen was kept as the limiting factor. The development of a nitrifying population was monitored by Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization and off-line activity measurements. These methods also showed that during steady state, anaerobic ammonium-oxidizing bacteria remained present and active. In the reactor, no aerobic nitrite-oxidizers were detected. The denitrifying potential of the biomass was below the detection limit. Ammonia was mainly converted to N2 (85%) and the remainder (15%) was recovered as NO3-. N2O production was negligible (less than 0.1%). Addition of an external carbon source was not needed to realize the autotrophic denitrification to N2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2475-2482
Number of pages8
JournalWater Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Anammox
  • Nitrification
  • Nitrogen removal
  • Sequencing batch reactor (SBR)
  • Wastewater treatment


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