Photo-oxygenation for nitritation and the effect of dissolved oxygen concentrations on anaerobic ammonium oxidation

Brigitte Mukarunyana, Jack van de Vossenberg, Jules B. van Lier, Peter Van Der Steen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Removal of nitrogen from wastewater without using electricity consuming aerators was previously observed in photo-bioreactors with a mixed algal-bacterial biomass. Algammox is the particular process based on algae, ammonium oxidizing organisms and anammox bacteria. In this research the activity of anammox bacteria in such an oxygen-producing environment was tested, as well as the effect of short-duration increase in dissolved oxygen (DO) to values potentially inhibiting anammox activity. Sequencing batch photo-bioreactors were fed with settled domestic wastewater enriched with ammonium (200 mg NH4 +-N/L) and exposed to light within the photosynthetic active range with intensity of about 500 μmol/m2·s. Each cycle consisted of 12 h illumination and 12 h darkness. A well-settling biomass (10 days solids retention time) developed that carried out nitritation, nitrification and anammox. Ammonium removal rate during the light period was 4.5 mg N-NH4 +/L·h, equal to 858 mg N-NH4 +/m2·h or 477 mg N-NH4 +/(mol photons). When the reactors were aerated for 3 h to temporarily increase the DO, anammox was inhibited at bulk DO values larger than 0.4–1.0 mg/L. For almost oxygen saturated conditions, recovery time was about 9 days. Algammox photo-bioreactors are therefore able to overcome short periods of oxygen stress, provided they occur only occasionally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)868-874
Number of pages7
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Anammox inhibition
  • Microalgae
  • Nitritation
  • Photo-bioreactor
  • Wastewater


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