The principles of high-rate denitrification are explained. In the experimental section of the paper the results of nine lab-scale experiments are described and compared with data gained from reviewed literature. The tests were performed in continuous flow stirred-tank and wash-out reactors under mesophilic and thermophilic conditions. The experimental results confirm that high-rate denitrification is an extremely efficient process. Removal rates of up to 25 kg NOx-Nel./ (m3·d) were achieved with the activated sludge systems.

The nitrate sludge loading was found to be the significant design parameter for the process if there is an excess of organic substrate. The maximum rate achieved by thermophilic bacteria was 10 kg NOx-Nel./(kg MLVSS·d) which exceeded by 33 % that for mesophilic organisms. Due to this, in the wash-out reactors the thermophilic system was superior to the mesophilic at system-related, inevitably similar MLVSS concentrations. But because of a temperature-dependent type of growth (thermophilic: disperse; mesophilic: flocculating), in the case of systems with recycling of biomass, higher removal rates (per volume) were obtained for the mesophilic reactors.

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