The anaerobic ammonium oxidation (ANAMMOX) is a chemolithoautotrophic process, which converts NH4+ to N2 using nitrite (NO2) as the electron acceptor. This process has very high nitrogen removal rates (NRRs) and is an alternative to classical nitrification/denitrification wastewater treatment. In the present work, a strategy for nitrogen removal using ANAMMOX process was tested evaluating their performance when submitted to high loading rates and very short hydraulic retention times (HRTs). An up-flow ANAMMOX column reactor was inoculated with 30% biomass (v v−1) fed from 100 to 200 mg L−1 of total N (NO2-N + NH4+-N) at 35 °C. After start-up and process stability the maximum NRR in the up-flow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactor was 18.3 g-N L−1 d−1 operated at 0.2 h of HRT. FISH (fluorescence in situ hybridization) analysis and process stoichiometry confirmed that ANAMMOX was the prevalent process for nitrogen removal during the experiments. The results point out that high NRRs can be obtained at very short HRTs using up-flow ANAMMOX column reactor configuration.

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