The overall energy consumption of domestic wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) increases with treatment efficiency. Approximately 30 to 45 kWh per people equivalent and year is mostly necessary for advanced nitrogen and phosphorus removal, while the aeration contains the main part of approximately 60%. A new process using encapsulated nitrifiers on gel lens beads is introduced to overcome the high energy consumption of aeration. A more selective nitrification process was found at a nitrification rate of between 50 and 60 mg nitrogen per hour and litre reaction volume corresponding to a hydraulic retention time (HRT) of about 30 to 60 minutes while the soluble Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) removal could be less than 30% depending on operational conditions of the bio-reactor. The latter enables internal use of wastewater's COD for a post denitrification. For the new process the energy consumption as well as total volume of bio-reactor are much less (approximately 30 to 50% for both) than conventional processes due to the low sludge age for COD and nitrate removal and the avoidance of internal wastewater recycle. Therefore, self-sufficient energy operation of domestic WWTPs operating with advanced treatment efficiency could become possible, if energy recovery by anaerobic sludge digestion is included.

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