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Bioresour Technol. 2001 Sep;79(2):165-70.

Nitrogen removal from wastewaters at low C/N ratios with ammonium and acetate as electron donors.

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Department of Biotechnology, Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana-Izatapala, Mexico.


A denitrifying upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactor was operated at different nitrate loading rates at a C/N ratio of 1.2, with acetate as an electron donor. This resulted in an increase in the accumulation of nitrite. After this, the UASB reactor was supplemented with 100 mg NH4+-Nl(-1) d(-1), while acetate was gradually limited in the medium. This prevented nitrite accumulation at a C/N ratio of 0.6 due to an enhanced nitrite reduction rate achieved in the reactor. An increasing amount of ammonium was consumed when the C/N ratio was lowered in the medium. This suggested that ammonium was used as an alternative electron donor during denitrification, which is supported by nitrogen balances. Nitrite was shown to be toxic for the nitrogen removal process at 200-400 mg NO2--N(l(-1) when the C/N ratio was decreased to 0.4 leading to formation of ammonium. The present study showed that addition of ammonium as an alternative electron donor for denitrification achieved a nitrogen removal process with negligible accumulation of undesirable intermediates.

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