Anaerobic Ammonium Oxidation (ANAMMOX) is a novel biological nitrogen removal process, which is regarded as the most economical process at present. In this paper, two lab-scale UASB reactors, one of which was inoculated with the mixture of anaerobic sludge and aerobic sludge, the other with river sediments, were started up, using the inorganic synthetic water containing ammonium and nitrite as influent. After 421 days' and 356 days operation respectively, the ammonium removal efficiencies in two reactors reached 94% and 86% respectively, the total nitrogen volumetric loading rates were 2.5 and 1.6 kgN/m3.d. ANAMMOX granules were obtained in both reactors; the color of most granules was brown, but some of them were red. Based on the observation and studies on the microstructure of the granules, three kinds of ANAMMOX granular sludge formation mechanisms were proposed: adhering biofilm and disintegrated granular core mechanism, adhering biofilm and inorganic core mechanism and the self-coherence mechanism. For phylogenetic characterization of anaerobic ammonium oxidizers,16S rDNA approach was performed using Planctomycetales-specific PCR amplification. The dominant anammox bacteria occupied more than 90% of Planctomycetales-specific bacteria, and 27% of all bacteria in reactors. The dominant anammox bacteria distantly related to all currently reported candidate anammox genera. Functional gene of amoA was analyzed to investigate the ‘aerobic’ ammonium-oxidizing bacteria in β-Proteobacteria. The ‘aerobic’ ammonium-oxidizing bacteria were more diverse than anammox bacteria, but most of them clustered in anoxic ammonium-oxidizing Nitrosomonas eutropha/europaea groups. The composition of ‘aerobic’ ammonium-oxidizing bacteria is only 2% of all of bacteria in reactors.

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