, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 303–312 | Cite as

Partial nitrification to nitrite using low dissolved oxygen concentration as the main selection factor

  • Richard Blackburne
  • Zhiguo Yuan
  • Jürg Keller
Original Paper


Partial nitrification to nitrite (nitritation) can be achieved in a continuous process without sludge retention by wash out of nitrite oxidising bacteria (NOB) while retaining ammonia oxidising bacteria (AOB), at elevated temperatures (the SHARON process) and, as demonstrated in this paper, also at low dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations. Enriched AOB was attained at a low DO concentration (0.4 mg l−1) and a dilution rate of 0.42 day−1 in a continuous process. A higher oxygen affinity of AOB compared to NOB seemed critical to achieving this. This was verified by determining the oxygen half saturation constant, K o, with similar oxygen mass transfer resistances for enriched AOB and NOB as 0.033 ± 0.003 mg l−1 and 0.43 ± 0.08 mg l−1, respectively. However, the extent of nitritation attained was found to be highly sensitive to process upsets.


Activated sludge Continuous process Dissolved oxygen concentration Nitritation Nitrite oxidising bacteria 



Dr Sandra Hall is gratefully acknowledged for contribution of the FISH analysis results. Dr Beatrice Keller is also gratefully acknowledged for FIA analytical work contributions. This work was funded by the Australian Research Council, ARC Project DP0210502.


  1. American Public Health Association (APHA) (1992) Standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater. Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  2. Anthonisen AC, Loehr RC, Prakasma TBS, Srinath EG (1976) Inhibition of nitrification by ammonia and nitrous acid. J Water Pollut Control Fed 48:835–852Google Scholar
  3. Bakti NAK, Dick RI (1992) A model for a nitrifying suspended-growth reactor incorporating intraparticle diffusion limitation. Water Res 26:1681–1690CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beccari M, Dipinto AC, Ramadori R, Tomei MC (1992) Effects of dissolved oxygen and diffusion resistances on nitrification kinetics. Water Res 26:1099–1104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bernet N, Dangcong P, Delgenes JP, Moletta R (2001) Nitrification at low oxygen concentration in biofilm reactor. J Environ Eng (ASCE) 127:266–271CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blackburne R, Vadivelu VM, Yuan Z, Keller J (2007) Kinetic characterisation of an enriched Nitrospira culture with comparison to Nitrobacter. Water Res. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2007.01.043
  7. Blackburne R, Vadivelu VM, Yuan Z, Keller J (in press) Determination of growth rate and yield of nitrifying bacteria by measuring carbon dioxide uptake rate. Water Environ ResGoogle Scholar
  8. Daims H, Bruhl A, Amann R, Schleifer KH, Wagner M (1999) The domain-specific probe EUB338 is insufficient for the detection of all bacteria: development and evaluation of a more comprehensive probe set. Syst App Microbiol 22: 434–444Google Scholar
  9. Daims H, Nielsen JL, Nielsen PH, Schleifer KH, Wagner M (2001) In situ characterization of Nitrospira-like nitrite oxidising bacteria active in wastewater treatment plants. App Environ Microbiol 67:5273–5284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fux C, Lange K, Faessler A, Huber P, Grueniger B, Siegrist H (2003) Nitrogen removal from digester supernatant via nitrite—SBR or SHARON? Water Sci Tech 48:9–18Google Scholar
  11. Gapes D (2003) External and internal mass transfer in biological treatment systems. PhD thesis, The University of QueenslandGoogle Scholar
  12. Grunditz C, Dalhammar G (2001) Development of nitrification inhibition assays using pure cultures of Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter. Water Res 35:433–440CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hall SJ, Keller J, Blackal LL (2003) Microbial quantification in activated sludge: The hits and misses. Water Sci Tech 48(3): 121-126Google Scholar
  14. Hanaki K, Wantawin C, Ohgaki S (1990) Nitrification at low levels of dissolved oxygen with and without organic loading in a suspended growth reactor. Water Res 24:297–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hellinga C, Schellen AAJC, Mulder JW, van Loosdrecht MCM, Heijen JJ (1998) The SHARON process: an innovative method for nitrogen removal from ammonium-rich waste water. Water SciTech 37:135–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Laanbroek HJ, Gerards S (1993) Competition for limiting amounts of oxygen between Nitrosomonas europaea and Nitrobacter winogradskyi grown in mixed continuous cultures. Arch Microbiol 159:453–459CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Laanbroek HJ, Bodelier PLE, Gerards S (1994) Oxygen consumption kinetics of Nitrosomonas europaea and Nitrobacter hamburgensis grown in mixed continuous cultures at different oxygen concentrations. Arch Microbiol 161:156–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lai E, Senkpiel S, Solley D, Keller J (2004) Nitrogen removal of high strength wastewater via nitritation/denitritation using a sequencing batch reactor. Water Sci Tech 50:27–33Google Scholar
  19. Manz W, Amann R, Ludwig W, Wagner M, Schleifer KH (1992) Phylogenetic oligodeoxynucleotide probes for the major subclasses of Proteobacteria - problems and solutions. Syst App Microbiol 15: 593–600Google Scholar
  20. Melcer H, Dold PL, Jones RM, Bye CM, Takacs I, Stensel DH, Wilson WA, Sun P, Bury S (2003) Methods for wastewater characterization in activated sludge modeling. Report of Water Environment Research Foundation and IWA PublishingGoogle Scholar
  21. Mueller JA, Voelkel KG, Boyle WC (1966) Nominal diameter of floc related to oxygen transfer. J San Eng Div (ASCE) 10:4756Google Scholar
  22. Painter HA, Loveless JE (1983) Effect of temperature and pH value on the growth-rate constants of nitrifying bacteria in the activated-sludge process. Water Res 17:237–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Peng YZ, Chen Y, Peng CY, Liu M, Wang SY, Song XQ, Cui YW (2004) Nitrite accumulation by aeration controlled in sequencing batch reactors treating domestic wastewater. Water Sci Tech 50:35–43Google Scholar
  24. Pratt S, Yuan ZG, Gapes D, Dorigo M, Zeng RJ, Keller J (2003) Development of a novel titration and off-gas analysis (TOGA) sensor for study of biological processes in wastewater treatment systems. Biotech Bioeng 81:482–495CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Sliekers AO, Haaijer SCM, Stafsnes MH, Kuenen JG, Jetten MSM (2005) Competition and coexistence of aerobic ammonium and nitrite oxidising bacteria at low oxygen concentrations. App Microbiol Biotech 68:808–817CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Turk O, Mavinic DS (1986) Preliminary assessment of a shortcut in nitrogen removal from wastewater. Can J Civil Eng 13:600–605CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Turk O, Mavinic DS (1989) Maintaining nitrite build-up in a system acclimated to free ammonia. Water Res 20:1383–1388CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Wagner M, Rath G, Amann R, Koops HP, Schleifer KH (1995) In-situ identification of ammonia oxidizing bacteria. Syst App Microbiol 18:251–264Google Scholar
  29. Wagner M, Rath G, Koops HP, Flood J, Amann R (1996) In situ analysis of nitrifying bacteria in sewage treatment plants. Water Sci Tech 34:237–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Wyffels S, Boeckx P, Pynaert K, Zhang D, Van Cleemput O, Chen G, Verstraete W (2004) Nitrogen removal from sludge reject water by a two-stage oxygen-limited autotrophic nitrification denitrification process. Water Sci Tech 49:57–64Google Scholar
  31. Yoo H, Ahn K, Lee H, Lee K, Kwak Y, Song K (1999) Nitrogen removal from synthetic wastewater by simultaneous nitrification and denitrification (SND) via nitrite in an intermittently-aerated reactor. Water Res 33:145–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Blackburne
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zhiguo Yuan
    • 1
  • Jürg Keller
    • 1
  1. 1.Advanced Wastewater Management CentreThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.GHD Pty. LtdBrisbaneAustralia

Personalised recommendations