Exploration and verification of the feasibility of sulfide-driven partial denitrification coupled with anammox for wastewater treatment

Yang Fan Deng, Di Wu*, Hao Huang, Yan Xiang Cui, Mark C.M. van Loosdrecht, Guang Hao Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Anaerobic ammonia oxidation (anammox) is a well-developed biotechnology for treating high-strength ammonium wastewaters. Recently, partial denitrification has been considered as an alternative to supply anammox with the required nitrite. In this study, a process of sulfide-driven partial denitrification and anammox (SPDA) was developed and operated continuously in an upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactor for 392 days. This reactor was fed with synthetic wastewater containing 100 mgN/L nitrate, 80 mgN/L ammonium and 20–80 mgS/L sulfide. After 160 days of operation, the reactor reached stable performance, and the nitrogen removal efficiency and rate were maintained at 80% and 0.29 kgN/(m³•d), respectively. The estimated nitrogen removal via anammox and sulfide-driven denitrification were 87.2% and 12.8%. Additional batch experiments were conducted to investigate the effects of sulfide on anammox and the mechanisms of nitrogen removal in the SPDA system. The following results were obtained: (1) sulfide had an inhibitory effect on the specific anammox activity with IC50 of 9.7 mgS-H2S/L. (2) The rapid oxidation of sulfide by sulfur-oxidizing bacteria (SOB) could relieve the toxic effects of sulfide on the anammox in the SPDA system. (3) Sulfide bio-oxidation was a two-step reaction with biologically produced elemental sulfur (BPS0) as the intermediate, and the second step using BPS0 as the electron donor, can efficiently produce nitrite via partial denitrification (NO3 → NO2) as a supply for anammox. Finally, a high-throughput sequencing analysis identified Thiobacillus and Sulfurimonas as the dominant genera of SOB in the SPDA system, and Candidatus Kuenenia as the dominant anammox bacteria. Overall, this research gives the foundation for the practical application of sulfide-driven partial denitrification and anammox process in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116905
Number of pages13
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Anammox
  • Biological nitrogen removal
  • Biologically produced elemental sulfur
  • Partial denitrification
  • Sulfide inhibition
  • Sulfide-oxidizing bacteria


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