Modeling of N2O Emissions in a Full-Scale Activated Sludge Sequencing Batch Reactor

  • T. M. MassaraEmail author
  • E. Katsou
  • A. Guisasola
  • A. Rodriguez-Caballero
  • M. Pijuan
  • J. A. Baeza
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Civil Engineering book series (LNCE, volume 4)


Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a greenhouse gas with a significant global warming potential. A dynamic model was developed to estimate the N2O production and emission in a full-scale sequencing batch reactor (SBR) municipal wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). Based on the Activated Sludge Model 1 (ASM1), the model considered all known biological and abiotic N2O production pathways along with the application of a ‘stripping effectivity’ (SE) coefficient for reflecting the non-ideality of the stripping model. N2O data of two different cycles (types B and C) were used for the model calibration. Cycle B involved the alternation amongst aerated and non-aerated phases, whereas cycle C included a unique long aerobic phase. Optimizing the dissolved oxygen (DO) and SE parameters for both cycles provided a good fit of the model (DO = 1.6 mg L−1 and SE = 0.11 for cycle B, and DO = 1.66 mg L−1 and SE = 0.11 for cycle C). In both cases, N2O emission peaks were related to high nitrite concentration in the liquid phase. Nitrifier denitrification was identified as the predominant biological pathway for N2O generation. Although SBR operation occurred at similar DO and SE values for both cycles, the emission factor was significantly different; 0.8% for cycle B and 1.5% for cycle C, indicating the impact of cycle configuration on the N2O emission. Thus, optimized SBR operation is essential in order to achieve a low overall carbon footprint through the avoidance of high N2O emissions and energy requirements.


N2O emissions Sequencing batch reactor Full-scale modeling 



T.M. Massara is grateful to the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) of the UK for the 4-year full PhD studentship. Her PhD research is additionally supported and funded by the European Union Research Program C-FOOT-CTRL (H2020-MSCA-RISE-2014, Grant agreement no: 645769). J.A. Baeza and A. Guisasola are members of the GENOCOV research group (Grup de Recerca Consolidat de la Generalitat de Catalunya, 2014 SGR 1255). E. Katsou and J.A. Baeza are members of EU COST Action Water_2020.


  1. Ahn JH, Kim S, Park H, Rahm B, Pagilla K, Chandran K (2010) N2O emissions from activated sludge processes, 2008–2009: results of a national monitoring survey in the United States. Environ Sci Technol 44:4505–4511CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson I, Poth M, Homstead J, Burdige D (1993) A comparison of NO and N2O nitrifier Alcaligenes faecalis. Appl Environ Microbiol 59:3525–3533Google Scholar
  3. Domingo-Félez C, Smets BF (2016) A consilience model to describe N2O production during biological N removal. Environ. Sci. Water Res. Technol. 2:923–930CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. GWRC, Foley J, Yuan Z, Keller J, Senante E, Chandran K, Willis J, et al. (2011) N2O and CH4 emission from wastewater collection and treatment systems. Technical report, London, United KingdomGoogle Scholar
  5. Harper WF, Takeuchi Y, Riya S, Hosomi M, Terada A (2015) Novel abiotic reactions increase nitrous oxide production during partial nitrification: Modeling and experiments. Chem Eng J 281:1017–1023CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Henze M, Gujer W, Mino T, van Loosdrecht M (2000) Activated Sludge Models ASM1, ASM2, ASM2d and ASM3. IWA Publishing, LondonGoogle Scholar
  7. Hiatt WC, Grady CPL (2008) An updated process model for carbon oxidation, nitrification, and denitrification. Water Environ Res 80(11):2145–2156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Kampschreur MJ, Tan NCG, Kleerebezem R, Picioreanu C, Jetten MSM, van Loosdrecht MCM (2008) Effect of dynamic process conditions on nitrogen oxide emission from a nitrifying culture. Environ Sci Technol 42:429–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kampschreur MJ, Temmink H, Kleerebezem R, Jetten MSM, van Loosdrecht MCM (2009) Nitrous oxide emission during wastewater treatment. Water Res 43:4093–4103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. IPCC (2013) The final draft report, dated 7th June 2013, of the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC 5th Assessment Report. In: Climate change 2013: the physical science basis.
  11. Mannina G, Ekama G, Caniani D, Cosenza A, Esposito G, Gori R, Garrido-baserba M, Rosso D, Olsson G (2016) Greenhouse gases from wastewater treatment - a review of modelling tools. Sci Total Environ 551–552:254–270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Massara TM, Malamis S, Guisasola A, Baeza JA, Noutsopoulos C, Katsou E (in press) A review on nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions during biological nutrient removal from municipal wastewater and sludge reject water. Sci Total EnvironGoogle Scholar
  13. Pan Y, van den Akker B, Ye L, Ni B-J, Watts S, Reid K, Yuan Z (2016) Unravelling the spatial variation of nitrous oxide emissions from a step-feed plug-flow full scale wastewater treatment plant. Sci Rep 6:20792CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Pocquet M, Wu Z, Queinnec I, Sperandio M (2016) A two pathway model for N2O emissions by ammonium oxidizing bacteria supported by the NO/N2O variation. Water Res 88:948–959CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Rodriguez-Caballero A, Aymerich I, Marques R, Poch M, Pijuan M (2015) Minimizing N2O emissions and carbon footprint on a full-scale activated sludge sequencing batch reactor. Water Res 71:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Soler-Jofra A, Stevens B, Hoekstra M, Picioreanu C, Sorokin D, van Loosdrecht MCM, Perez J (2016) Importance of abiotic hydroxylamine conversion on nitrous oxide emissions during nitritation of reject water. Chem Eng J 287:720–726CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Sutka RL, Ostrom NE, Ostrom PH, Breznak JA, Gandhi H, Pitt AJ, Li F (2006) Distinguishing nitrous oxide production from nitrification and denitrification on the basis of isotopomer abundances. Appl Environ Microbiol 72:638–644CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Wunderlin P, Mohn J, Joss A, Emmenegger L, Siegrist H (2012) Mechanisms of N2O production in biological wastewater treatment under nitrifying and denitrifying conditions. Water Res 46:1027–1037CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. M. Massara
    • 1
    Email author
  • E. Katsou
    • 1
  • A. Guisasola
    • 2
  • A. Rodriguez-Caballero
    • 3
  • M. Pijuan
    • 3
  • J. A. Baeza
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering, Institute of Environment, Health and SocietiesBrunel University LondonMiddlesex, UxbridgeUK
  2. 2.GENOCOV. Departament d’Enginyeria Química, Biològica i Ambiental, Escola d’EnginyeriaUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA)GironaSpain

Personalised recommendations