Optimization of multistage biological nutrient removal reactors for removal of nitrogen and phosphorus from saline refinery wastewater


The present study aimed at investigating the biological treatment of nitrogen and phosphorus from the saline wastewater in various systems. In the end, moving bed biofilm reactor and anaerobic/anoxic/aerobic (AOA) were chosen as the best systems. In the present study, the investigations were carried out in two 24-h and 12-h retention times for three nitrogen concentrations, 200 mg/l, 300 mg/l, and 400 mg/l, two phosphorus concentrations, 14 mg/l and 20 mg/l, three Chemical oxygen demand (COD) concentrations, 800 mg/l, 1000 mg/l, and 1200 mg/l, and four salt concentrations, 10 g/l, 12 g/l, 17 g/l, and 20 g/l. The obtained results indicated that the COD removal percentage was high in a range between 91.3 and 99.1% and that this amount was decreased with increasing the amount of COD inputted to the system and the retention time was reduced with increasing the salt concentration. However, the concentration changes of the inputted ammonia were found having a lesser effect on ammonia elimination. Moreover, the increase in nitrification speed brought about an increase in the amount of nitrate entering the anoxic reactor. The nitrate removal in anoxic reactor ranged between 47.3 and 74.8%. The phosphorus removal percentage was ranging from 84.1 to 98.6%, and these changes, as well, were also decreased with the reduction in retention time and increase in the salt concentration. Microphotographic investigations were conducted on the reactors, and the microorganism existent in the aerobic reactor was identified to be the microbial species of staphylococcus warneri ATCC 27,863 (T) type.

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Fig. 6
Fig. 7


  1. 1.

    A refinery in the south of Fars Province, Iran.


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This study has two grant of financial support, thank you from the Parsian Gas Refinery for financial support and from Sharif University of Technology for the availability of laboratories

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Correspondence to A Delashoob.

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Editorial responsibility: M. Abbaspour.

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Delashoob, A., Borghei, S.M. Optimization of multistage biological nutrient removal reactors for removal of nitrogen and phosphorus from saline refinery wastewater. Int. J. Environ. Sci. Technol. (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13762-020-02772-3

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  • Saline wastewater
  • Refinery and petrochemical compound
  • Biological treatment of nitrogen and phosphorus
  • Moving bed biofilm reactor
  • AOA system