Anoxic/oxic treatment without biomass recycle

Qinyuan Lu, Junqing Zhou, Ge Zhu, Chong Tan, Songyun Chen, Xiaohui Zhu, Ning Yan, Yongming Zhang, Qiuen Xu, Bifeng Pan, Bruce E. Rittmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The Anoxic/Oxic (A/O) process involves recirculating mixed liquor between its A and O tanks so that nitrate produced in the O tank can be used to for denitrification with influent COD in the A tank. Because biomass is recirculated along with nitrate, A/O operation leads to similar microbial communities in the A and O tanks, which may decrease the rates of denitrification and nitrification in each tank. Here, bench-scale experiments simulated this aspect of the A/O process by exchanging biomass between an anoxic flask and an oxic cylinder at exchange ratios of 0%, 20%, 30%, and 50%. Nitrification and denitrification rates were only 40% and 19% for 50% biomass exchange of that for no biomass exchange. Phylogenetic analysis documented that the microbial communities became much more similar with biomass exchange, and the finding was consistent with community composition in a full-scale A/O process in a municipal wastewater treatment plant. A two-stage vertical baffled bioreactor (VBBR) realized efficient total‑nitrogen removal in recirculation without biomass exchange. Average removals of COD and TN were respectively 6% and 22% higher for the two-stage VBBR than the conventional A/O process, but its hydraulic retention time (HRT) was 55% to 70% of the volume of a conventional A/O process treating the same influent wastewater. The VBBR was more efficient because its anoxic biofilm was enriched in denitrifying bacteria, while its oxic biofilm was enriched in nitrifying bacteria. For example, the phylum Chloroflexi was greater in the An-VBBR, while the phylum Proteobacteria was greater in the Ox-VBBR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number155166
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Aug 15 2022


  • Biomass cycle
  • Contribution of microbiological community
  • Denitrification
  • Nitrification
  • Vertical baffled bioreactor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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