Integrated shortcut nitrogen and biological phosphorus removal from mainstream wastewater: process operation and modeling†
While enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) is widely utilized for phosphorus (P) removal from wastewater, understanding of efficient process alternatives that allow combined biological P removal and shortcut nitrogen (N) removal, such as nitritation–denitritation, is limited. Here, we demonstrate efficient and reliable combined total N, P, and chemical oxygen demand removal (70%, 83%, and 81%, respectively) in a sequencing batch reactor (SBR) treating real mainstream wastewater (primary effluent) at 20 °C. Anaerobic – aerobic cycling (with intermittent oxic/anoxic periods during aeration) was used to achieve consistent removal rates, nitrite oxidizing organism (NOO) suppression, and high effluent quality. Importantly, high resolution process monitoring coupled to ex situ batch activity assays demonstrated that robust biological P removal was coupled to energy and carbon efficient nitritation–denitritation, not simultaneous nitrification–denitrification, for the last >400 days of 531 total days of operation. Nitrous oxide emissions of 2.2% relative to the influent TKN (or 5.2% relative to total inorganic nitrogen removal) were similar to those measured in other shortcut N bioprocesses. No exogenous chemicals were needed to achieve consistent process stability and high removal rates in the face of frequent wet weather flows and highly variable influent concentrations. Process modeling reproduced the performance observed in the SBR and confirmed that nitrite drawdown via denitritation contributed to suppression of NOO activity.