Nitrous oxide emission mitigation during low–carbon source wastewater treatment: effect of external carbon source supply strategy

  • Hongxiang ChaiEmail author
  • Siping Deng
  • Xiaoyuan Zhou
  • Chuanrong Su
  • Yu Xiang
  • Yan Yang
  • Zhiyu Shao
  • Li Gu
  • Xuan Xu
  • Fangying Ji
  • Qiang He
Research Article


Nitrous oxide (N2O) generated during biological nitrogen removal in wastewater treatment processes has contributed an important proportion to the global warming effect. To evaluate the possibility of N2O emission mitigating by changing carbon source supply strategies, nitrogen transformation characteristics and N2O emissions with methanol one-time dosing and step dosing were investigated. Two sets of laboratory-scale sequencing batch biofilm reactors (SBBRs) were conducted to treat real domestic wastewater with low carbon source. The results revealed that reactors with methanol step dosing showed a lower N2O emission of 0.0402 ± 0.0016 mg/(L·h), together with a higher total nitrogen and ammonia nitrogen removal efficiencies of 83.30% ± 1.21 and 93.45% ± 1.20, respectively. While N2O emission from conventional one-time dosing reactors was 0.0741 ± 0.0025 mg/(L·h), total nitrogen and ammonia nitrogen removal efficiencies were 75.71% ± 0.54 and 88.45% ± 0.59, respectively. The N2O emission factor of SBBR was reduced from 6.26% ± 0.21 to 3.40% ± 0.14 with methanol step dosing. Moreover, nitrification rates in aerobic phases were reduced, while denitrification rates in anoxic phases were elevated. Hence, carbon source step dosing enhanced nitrogen removal and reduced N2O emission compared with one-time dosing, which is a simply achievable strategy for N2O emission reduction in highly automated systems like wastewater treatment plants.


Wastewater treatment Nitrous oxide Carbon source Sequencing batch biofilm reactor Nitrogen removal Methanol 


Funding information

The work reported here was financially supported by the National Key Technology R&D Program of China (2011BAJ07B03).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11356_2019_5516_MOESM1_ESM.docx (33 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 32 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Three Gorges Reservoir Region’s Eco-Environment, Ministry of EducationChongqing UniversityChongqingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.National Centre for International Research of Low-carbon and Green BuildingsChongqing UniversityChongqingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.College of PhysicsChongqing UniversityChongqingPeople’s Republic of China

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