Operation of suspended-growth shortcut biological nitrogen removal (SSBNR) based on the minimum/maximum substrate concentration

Seongjun Park, Wookeun Bae, Bruce Rittmann, Seungjin Kim, Jinwook Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


This study exploited the concept of the minimum/maximum substrate concentrations (MSC values) for identifying proper start-up conditions and achieving stable and low effluent total ammonium nitrogen (TAN) concentrations in suspended-growth short-cut biological nitrogen removal (SSBNR). Calculations based on the MSC concept indicated that SDmax, the TAN concentration above which ammonium-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) are washed out, was around 450 mgTAN/L at the given operating conditions of 2 mg/L of dissolved oxygen and pH 8, while nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB) should be washed out at around 40 mgTAN/L. Therefore, the experimental research was focused on the optimal TAN-concentration range for SSBNR, between 50 and 100 mg/L. Experimental results showed that a nitrification reactor with initial TAN concentration above 450 mg/L did not give a successful start-up. However, two days of starvation, which decreased the TAN concentration in the reactor to 95 mg/L, stabilized the reaction quickly, and stable SSBNR was sustained thereafter with 80 mgTAN/L and 98% nitrite accumulation in the reactor. During stable SSBNR, the removal ratio of chemical oxygen demand per nitrite nitrogen (ΔCOD/ΔNO2-N) for denitrification was 1.94 gCOD/gN, which is around 55% of that required for nitrate denitrification. Based on a clone library, Nitrosomonas occupied 14% of the total cells, while the sum of Nitrobacter and Nitrospira was less than the detection cut-off of 2%, confirming the NOB were washed out during SSBNR. A spiking test that doubled the influent ammonium loading caused the TAN concentration in the reactor to reach washout for AOB, which lasted until the loading was reduced. Thus, a loading increase should be controlled carefully such that the system does not exceed the washout range for AOB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1419-1428
Number of pages10
JournalWater Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • Ammonium oxidation
  • Free ammonia inhibition
  • Free nitrous acid inhibition
  • Minimum substrate concentration
  • Nitrite oxidation
  • Oxygen limitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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