Nitrogen removal via the nitrite pathway has the potential of reducing the requirements for aeration consumption and carbon source. However, the development of an efficient and quick start-up strategy for partial nitrification to nitrite has proven difficult in the treatment of low strength wastewater. In this study, the feasibility of partial nitrification achieved by using real-time aeration duration control was not only demonstrated from the kinetic mechanism, but also was validated in three sequencing batch reactors (SBRs) fed with low C/N domestic wastewater. Nitrite accumulation could be achieved when aeration was terminated as soon as an inflexion pH point was reached (the dpH/dt became from negative to positive). The reduction or limitation of the NOB growth could be achieved through aeration duration control, due to leaving no extra time for NOB to convert the accumulated nitrite. The experimental operation results also showed that partial nitrification with nitrite accumulation ratios of over 80% was achieved successfully in these three reactors with process control. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis indicated the reduction of NOB was achieved and AOB became the dominant nitrifying bacteria. Moreover, an integrated start-up strategy based on aeration duration control was proposed to quickly achieve partial nitrification to nitrite.

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