Understanding the microbial trends in a nitritation reactor fed with primary settled municipal wastewater

Alba Pedrouso, David Correa-Galeote, Paula Maza-Márquez, Belén Juárez-Jimenez, Jesús González-López, Belén Rodelas, Jose Luis Campos, Anuska Mosquera-Corral, Angeles Val del Rio

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4 Scopus citations


Partial nitritation was pointed out as the key step to implement the autotrophic nitrogen removal processes at low temperature. This study investigated the initiation and maintenance of a nitritation process with simultaneous COD removal in a sequencing batch reactor (SBR) run at 15 °C and fed with primary settled urban wastewater characterized by 42 ± 10 mg TOC/L and 45 ± 4 mg NH4+-N/L. A nitrite accumulation ratio of nearly 100% was observed and the long-term (354 days) process stability was successfully maintained despite the municipal wastewater composition fluctuations. The absence of nitrite oxidizing bacteria (NOB) activity was attributed to the free nitrous acid (FNA) in-situ accumulated at high levels (0.02–0.20 mg HNO2-N/L). Despite nitrate production was not observed, the quantification of bacterial groups indicated that NOB were present in the SBR sludge throughout the entire operational period. Ammonium oxidizing bacteria (AOB) abundance and community structure were significantly influenced by the organic matter present in the feeding. Average organic matter removal efficiencies of 80% were obtained without observing any detrimental effect over the nitritation process performance, due to the functional redundancy within both the chemoheterotrophic and AOB communities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117828
JournalSeparation and Purification Technology
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Autotrophic nitrogen removal
  • Free nitrous acid
  • Low temperature
  • Mainstream
  • Nitrite oxidation inhibition


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