In full scale wastewater treatment plants with at times considerable deficits in the nitrogen balances, it could hitherto not be sufficiently explained which reactions are the cause of the nitrogen losses and which micro-organisms participate in the process. The single stage conversion of ammonium into gaseous end-products – which is henceforth referred to as deammonification – occurs particularly frequently in biofilm systems. In the meantime, one has succeeded to establish the deammonification processes in a continuous flow moving-bed pilot plant. In batch tests with the biofilm covered carriers, it was possible for the first time to examine the nitrogen conversion at the intact biofilm. Depending on the dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration, two autotrophic nitrogen converting reactions in the biofilm could be proven: one nitritation process under aerobic conditions and one anaerobic ammonium oxidation. With the anaerobic ammonium oxidation, ammonium as electron donor was converted with nitrite aselectron acceptor. The end-product of this reaction was N2. Ammonium and nitrite did react in a stoichiometrical ratio of 1:1.37, a ratio which has in the very same dimension been described for the ANAMMOX-process (1:1.31±0.06). Via the oxygen concentration in the surrounding medium, it was possible to control the ratio of nitritation and anaerobic ammonium oxidation in the nitrogen conversion of the biofilm. Both processes were evenly balanced at a DO concentration of 0.7 mg/l, so that it was possible to achieve a direct, almost complete elimination of ammonium without addition of nitrite. One part of the provided ammonium did participate in the nitritation, the other in the anaerobic ammonium oxidation. Through the aerobic ammonium oxidation into nitrite within the outer oxygen supplied layers of the biofilm, the reaction partner was produced for the anaerobic ammonium oxidation within the inner layers of the biofilm.

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