Facilities across North America are designing plants to meet stringent limit of technology (LOT) treatment for nitrogen removal. In the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, this is in response to the Chesapeake Bay Agreement, which limit effluent total nitrogen discharges from wastewater treatment plants to between 3–5 mg/L. Since denitrification is crucial for the removal of nitrogen, maximizing this process step will result in a decrease in nutrient load to the receiving waters. Of particular interest is the use of an alternate external carbon source to replace the most commonly used carbon, methanol. Three external carbon sources were evaluated in this study including: methanol, ethanol and acetate at 13°C. The aim of this study was to evaluate the relative benefits and constraints for using these three carbon types. Laboratory scale Sequencing Batch Reactors (SBRs) were set up to grow and acclimate carbon free biomass to the specified substrate while in-situ Specific Denitrification Rates (SDNRs) were conducted concurrently. The results suggest that the SDNRs for acetate (31.0 ± 4.6 mgNO3-N/gVSS/hr) and ethanol (29.6 ± 5.6 mgNO3-N/gVSS/hr) are higher than that for methanol (10.1 ± 2.5 mgNO3-N/gVSS/hr). The yield coefficients in g COD/g COD were observed to follow a similar trend with values of 0.45 ± 0.05 for methanol, 0.53 ± 0.06 for ethanol and 0.66 ± 0.06 for acetate.

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