Effect of dissolved oxygen and chemical oxygen demand to nitrogen ratios on the partial nitrification/denitrification process in moving bed biofilm reactors

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of Environmental Health Engineering, School of Paramidicine and Health, Golestan University of Medical Sciences and Health Services, P.O. Box 49165-513, Gorgan, I.R. Iran.

2 Department of Environmental Health Engineering, School of Public Health, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, P.O. Box 82745-319, Isfahan, I.R. Iran.


Partial nitrification was reported to be technically feasible and economically favorable, especially for wastewater
with high ammonium concentration or low C/N ratio. In this study, the effect of dissolved oxygen (DO)
and influent ratio of chemical oxygen demand to nitrogen (COD/N) ratio on biological nitrogen removal from
synthetic wastewater was investigated. Experiments were conducted in moving bed biofilm reactors
(MBBRs) on partial nitrification process in pilot-plant configuration for 300 days. DO levels were changed
from 0.04 to 0.12 and 0.42 to 3.4 mg/l in the anoxic (R1) and aerobic (R2) reactors, respectively. The optimum DO for partial nitrification was between 1-1.5 mg/l in the aerobic reactor (R2). Influent COD/N ratios
between 20 and 2 g COD/g-N were tested by changing the nitrogen loading rate (NLR) supplied to the pilot
plant. During operational conditions when the DO concentration in aerobic reactor was above 1 mg/l, near
complete organic carbon removal occurred in the total MBBRs system. The effluent total nitrogen concentration
in the operational conditions (1.7-2.1 mg O2/l and NH+4-N=35.7 mg N/l) was obtained in the range of
0.85-2 mg/l. The highest nitrite accumulation (50%-52%) took place at the DO concentration of 1-1.5 mg/l
and increased with decreasing COD/N ratio in aerobic reactor (R2). This study showed that the average nitrification rate at various COD/N ratios is about 0.96gN/m2 per day while the maximum nitrification rate is
about 2 gN/m2 per day at COD/N ratios lower than 6. The experimental COD/N ratio for denitrification was
close to complete sum of NO2- and NO3- (NOx) removal efficiency (about 99%) at COD/N ratio equal
14 in the operational conditions in the anoxic reactor (R1).