Journal of environmental sciences (China)

Effect of nitrate concentration on filamentous bulking under low level of dissolved oxygen in an airlift inner circular anoxic-aerobic incorporate reactor.

PMID 24520715


This laboratory research investigated a possible cause of filamentous bulking under low level of dissolved oxygen conditions (dissolved oxygen value in aerobic zone maintained between 0.6-0.8 mg O2/L) in an airlift inner-circular anoxic-aerobic reactor. During the operating period, it was observed that low nitrate concentrations affected sludge volume index significantly. Unlike the existing hypothesis, the batch tests indicated that filamentous bacteria (mainly Thiothrix sp.) could store nitrate temporarily under carbon restricted conditions. When nitrate concentration was below 4 mg/L, low levels of carbon substrates and dissolved oxygen in the aerobic zone stimulated the nitrate-storing capacity of filaments. When filamentous bacteria riched in nitrate reached the anoxic zone, where they were exposed to high levels of carbon but limited nitrate, they underwent denitrification. However, when nonfilamentous bacteria were exposed to similar conditions, denitrification was restrained due to their intrinsic nitrate limitation. Hence, in order to avoid filamentous bulking, the nitrate concentration in the return sludge (from aerobic zone to the anoxic zone) should be above 4 mg/L, or alternatively, the nitrate load in the anoxic zone should be kept at levels above 2.7 mg NO(3-)-N/g SS.