Digested blackwater treatment in a partial nitritation-anammox reactor under repeated starvation and reactivation periods

Alba Pedrouso, Giaime Tocco, Angeles Val del Río, Alessandra Carucci, Nicolás Morales, Jose Luis Campos, Stefano Milia, Anuska Mosquera-Corral

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10 Scopus citations


Wastewater source-separation and on-site treatment systems face severe problems in wastewater availability. Therefore, the effect of repeated short-term starvation and reactivation periods on a partial nitritation-anammox (PN/AMX) based processes were assessed treating digested blackwater at room temperature. Two sequencing batch reactors (SBR) were operated, one of them during 24 h/day the whole week (SBR-C, which served as control) and the other with repeated starvation/reactivation periods during the nights and the weekends (SBR-D), using simulated blackwater (300 mg N/L and 200 mg COD/L) as substrate. Results showed no remarkable differences in overall processes performance between both reactors, achieving total nitrogen removal efficiencies (NRE) around 90%. Furthermore, no significant variations were measured in specific activities, except for the aerobic heterotrophic one that was lower in SBR-D, presumably due to the exposure to anoxic conditions. Then, the technical feasibility of applying the PN/AMX system to treat real blackwater produced in an office building during working hours was successfully proved in a third reactor (SBR-R), with the same starvation/reactivation periods tested in SBR-D. Despite the low temperature, ranging from 14 to 21 °C, total NRE up to 95% and total nitrogen concentration in the effluent lower than 10 mg N/L were achieved. Moreover, the PN/AMX process performance was immediately recovered after a long starvation period of 15 days (simulating holidays). Results proved for the first time the feasibility and long-term stability (100 days) of applying the PN/AMX processes for the treatment (and potential reuse) of blackwater in a decentralized system where wastewater is not always available.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118733
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
StatePublished - 20 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Anammox
  • Blackwater
  • Decentralized systems
  • Nitritation
  • Starvation
  • Wastewater source separation


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