Toward Energy Neutrality: Novel Wastewater Treatment Incorporating Acidophilic Ammonia Oxidation

Zhetai Hu, Tao Liu, Zhiyao Wang, Jia Meng, Min Zheng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Chemically enhanced primary treatment (CEPT) followed by partial nitritation and anammox (PN/A) and anaerobic digestion (AD) is a promising roadmap to achieve energy-neutral wastewater treatment. However, the acidification of wastewater caused by ferric hydrolysis in CEPT and how to achieve stable suppression of nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB) in PN/A challenge this paradigm in practice. This study proposes a novel wastewater treatment scheme to overcome these challenges. Results showed that, by dosing FeCl3 at 50 mg Fe/L, the CEPT process removed 61.8% of COD and 90.1% of phosphate and reduced the alkalinity as well. Feeding by low alkalinity wastewater, stable nitrite accumulation was achieved in an aerobic reactor operated at pH 4.35 aided by a novel acid-tolerant ammonium-oxidizing bacteria (AOB), namely, Candidatus Nitrosoglobus. After polishing in a following anoxic reactor (anammox), a satisfactory effluent, containing COD at 41.9 ± 11.2 mg/L, total nitrogen at 5.1 ± 1.8 mg N/L, and phosphate at 0.3 ± 0.2 mg P/L, was achieved. Moreover, the stable performances of this integration were well maintained at an operating temperature of 12 °C, and 10 investigated micropollutants were removed from the wastewater. An energy balance assessment indicated that the integrated system could achieve energy self-sufficiency in domestic wastewater treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4522-4532
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • acidophilic ammonia oxidation
  • CEPT
  • domestic wastewater treatment
  • energy neutrality
  • low temperature
  • mainstream anammox

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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