One-year stable pilot-scale operation demonstrates high flexibility of mainstream anammox application

Min Zheng, Huijuan Li, Haoran Duan, Tao Liu, Zhiyao Wang, Jing Zhao, Zhetai Hu, Shane Watts, Jia Meng, Peng Liu, Maxime Rattier, Eloise Larsen, Jianhua Guo, Jason Dwyer, Ben Van Den Akker, James Lloyd, Shihu Hu, Zhiguo Yuan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Mainstream nitrogen removal via anammox is widely recognized as a promising wastewater treatment process. However, its application is challenging at large scale due to unstable suppression of nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB). In this study, a pilot-scale mainstream anammox process was implemented in an Integrated Fixed-film Activated Sludge (IFAS) configuration. Stable operation with robust NOB suppression was maintained for over one year. This was achieved through integration of three key control strategies: i) low dissolved oxygen (DO = 0.4 ± 0.2 mg O2/L), ii) regular free nitrous acid (FNA)-based sludge treatment, and iii) residual ammonium concentration control (NH4+ with a setpoint of ∼8 mg N/L). Activity tests and FISH demonstrated that NOB barely survived in sludge flocs and were inhibited in biofilms. Despite receiving organic-deficient wastewater from a pilot-scale High-Rate Activated Sludge (HRAS) system as the feed, the system maintained a stable effluent total nitrogen concentration mostly below 10 mg N/L, which was attributed to the successful retention of anammox bacteria. This study successfully demonstrated large-scale long-term mainstream anammox application and generated new practical knowledge for NOB control and anammox retention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100166
JournalWater Research X
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Autotrophic nitrogen removal from wastewater
  • Bioenergy recovery
  • Effluent quality
  • Mainstream anammox
  • NOB suppression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modelling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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