Removing ammonium via the partial nitritation anammox (PNA) process has been widely applied because of its cost and energy effectiveness. However, the first stage of PNA, partial nitritation, is hard to implement practically due to the challenging suppression of nitrate oxidizing bacteria (NOB) and should be achieved in the anammox environment to extend it to one stage PNA. Hence, this article evaluates different techniques, such as the combination of low dissolve oxygen (DO) and high free ammonia (FA), and the intermittent aeration cycle to achieve partial nitritation in an anammox start-up environment. For this purpose, a 10.5 L lab-scale moving bed biofilm reactor was set up and fed with synthetic wastewater and the transformation of influent ammonium into nitrate and nitrite was measured. The results showed that, despite applying low DO and higher free ammonia than the inhibition range of NOB, the nitrate production rate (NPR) was consistently higher than the nitrite accumulation rate (NAR), signifying no sufficient NOB suppression, partial nitritation under continuous aeration and up to a 0.27 gN/m2
·d surface ammonium loading rate (SALR). Higher SALR than 0.27 gN/m2
·d could result in partial nitritation since nitrogen compounds transformation was closer to partial nitritation when the reactor was subjected to 0.27 gN/m2
·d rather than 0.14 gN/m2
·d. Lifting up the SALR, on the other hand, results in a bad anammox environment and cannot prolong it to one-stage PNA. An intermittent aeration cycle with four different cycle lengths sets, obtained by monitoring nitrogen compound transformation, was, therefore, applied to the reactor. The relatively shorter aerobic length of 10 min ON and 30 OFF intermittent aeration cycle with 0.5 mg/L aerated DO was successful in achieving the partial nitritation with NPR, NAR, and ammonium removal efficiency (ARE) values of 17%, 78%, and 37%, respectively, showing that shorter aerated length suppresses NOB to a high degree due to less available time for NOB after oxygen starvation.
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