Simultaneous nitrification and denitrification (SND) via the nitrite pathway and anaerobic–anoxic enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) are two processes that can significantly reduce the COD demand for nitrogen and phosphorus removal. The combination of these two processes has the potential of achieving simultaneous nitrogen and phosphorus removal with a minimal requirement for COD. A lab-scale sequencing batch reactor (SBR) was operated in alternating anaerobic–aerobic mode with a low dissolved oxygen concentration (DO, 0.5 mg/L) during the aerobic period, and was demonstrated to accomplish nitrification, denitrification and phosphorus removal. Under anaerobic conditions, COD was taken up and converted to polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), accompanied with phosphorus release. In the subsequent aerobic stage, PHA was oxidized and phosphorus was taken up to less than 0.5 mg/L at the end of the cycle. Ammonia was also oxidised during the aerobic period, but without accumulation of nitrite or nitrate in the system, indicating the occurrence of simultaneous nitrification and denitrification. However, off-gas analysis found that the final denitrification product was mainly nitrous oxide (N2O) not N2. Further experimental results demonstrated that nitrogen removal was via nitrite, not nitrate. These experiments also showed that denitrifying glycogen-accumulating organisms rather than denitrifying polyphosphate-accumulating organisms were responsible for the denitrification activity.

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