High rate membrane bioreactor (MBR) systems operated at extremely low sludge ages (superfast membrane bioreactors (SFMBRs)) are inefficient to achieve nitrogen removal, due to insufficient retention time for nitrifiers. Moreover, frequent chemical cleaning is required due to high biomass flux. This study aims to satisfy the nitrification in SFMBRs by using sponge as carriers, leading to the extension of the residence time of microorganisms. In order to test the limits of nitrification, bioreactor was run under 52, 5 and 2 days of carrier residence time (CRT), with a hydraulic retention time of 6 h. Different degrees of nitrification were obtained for different CRTs. Sponge immobilized SFMBR operation with short CRT resulted in partial nitrification indicating selective dominancy of ammonia oxidizers. At higher CRT, simultaneous nitrification–denitrification was achieved when accompanying with oxygen limitation. Process kinetics was determined through evaluation of the results by a modeling study. Nitrifier partition in the reactor was also identified by model calibration.

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