Various sludge treatment processes produced supernatant with high ammonia concentration from 500 to 2,000 mgN/L and generally high phosphate concentration. Conversion of ammonia into nitrite via partial nitrification has proven to be an economic way, reducing oxygen and external COD requirements during the nitrification/denitrification process. Two processes with biomass retention are studied simultaneously: the sequencing batch reactor (SBR) and the sequencing batch biofilm reactor (SBBR). At a temperature of 30°C, the inhibition of nitrite-oxidizing bacteria due to high ammonia concentration has been studied in order to obtain a stable nitrite accumulation. This work has confirmed the effect of pH and dissolved oxygen on nitrite accumulation performance. During a two month starting period, both processes led to nitrite accumulation without nitrate production when pH was maintained above 7.5. From a 500 mgN/L effluent, the performance of the SBR, and the SBBR, reached respectively about 0.95gN-NO2/gN-NH4+, and 0.4gN-NO2/gN-NH4+. The SBBR appears to be more stable facing disturbances in dissolved oxygen conditions. Finally, the maximal phosphate removal rates obtained in the SBR reached 90%, and 70% in the SBBR, depending on ammonium accumulation in the reactor. Ammonium phosphate precipitation is likely to occur, as was suggested by crystals observation in the reactor.

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