Bioaugmentation to improve nitrification in activated sludge treatment

Shao Yuan Leu, Michael K. Stenstrom

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Bioaugmentation is a proposed technique to improve nutrient removal in municipal wastewater treatment. Compared with commonly used nitrification/ denitrification (NDN) processes, bioaugmentation may be able to reduce tankage or land requirements. Many approaches for bioaugmentation have been developed, but few studies have compared the benefits among different approaches. This paper quantifies the effectiveness of bioaugmentation processes and investigates three major "onsite" bioaugmentation alternatives: 1) the parallel-plants approach, which uses acclimated biomass grown in a nitrifying "long-SRT" (sludge retention time) plant to augment a low-SRT treatment plant; 2) the enricher-reactor approach, which uses an offline reactor to produce the augmentation cultures; and 3) the enricher-reactor/return activated sludge (ER-RAS) approach, which grows enrichment culture in a reaeration reactor that receives a portion of the recycle activated sludge. Kinetic models were developed to simulate each approach, and the benefits of various approaches are presented on the same basis with controllable parameters, such as bioaugmentation levels, aeration tank volume, and temperatures. Examples were given to illustrate the potential benefits of bioaugmentation by upgrading a "carbon-only" wastewater treatment plant to nitrification. Simulation results suggested that all bioaugmentation approaches can decrease the minimum SRT for nitrification. The parallel-plants approach creates the highest concentration of biomass but may fail at too low temperature. The ER-RAS approach likely would be more useful at lower temperature and required less reactor volume; enricher-reactor approach would likely be more advantageous in the presence of inhibitory compound(s).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)524-535
Number of pages12
JournalWater Environment Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Activated sludge
  • Bioaugmentation
  • Modeling
  • Nitrification
  • Wastewater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology


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