Looking deeper - exploring hidden patterns in reactor data of N-removal systems through clustering analysis

Luz Alejo, John Atkinson, Susanne Lackner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In this work, clustering analysis of two partial nitritation-anammox (PN-A) moving bed biofilm reactors (MBBR) containing different types of carrier material was explored for the identification of patterns and operational conditions that may benefit process performance. The systems ran for two years under fluctuations of temperature and organic matter. Ex situ batch activity tests were performed every other week during the operation of these reactors. These datasets and the parameters, which were monitored online and in the laboratory, were combined and analyzed applying clustering analysis to identify non-obvious information regarding the performance of the systems. The initial results were consistent with the literature and from an operational perspective, which allowed the parameters to be explored further. The new information revealed that the oxidation reduction potential (ORP) and the anaerobic ammonium oxidizing bacteria (AnAOB) activity correlated well. ORP also dropped when the reactors were exposed to real wastewater (presence of organic matter). Moreover, operating conditions during nitrite accumulation were identified through clustering, and also revealed inhibition of anammox bacteria already at low nitrite concentrations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1569-1577
Number of pages9
JournalWater Science and Technology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 15 Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Clustering
  • Feature selection
  • K-means
  • Partial nitritation-anammox


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