Controlling nitritation in a continuous split-feed/aeration biofilm nitrifying bioreactor

Anwar Dawas, Samy Abu-Salih, Isam Sabbah, Ali Nejidat, Carlos G. Dosoretz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study explored the stability of partial ammonium oxidation at low feed concentration (50 g N/m3), suitable for anammox process, in continuous fixed bed up-flow biofilm reactors with external recirculation-aeration. The reactors, filled with crushed basalt, were fed with synthetic medium at 20–25 °C at constant flow-rate with limiting dissolved oxygen concentration controlled by the recirculation ratio (R). Successful nitritation was achieved at R ≅ 4–6 with approx. 50% of NH4+ oxidized to NO2- with <5% NO3-accumulation. q-PCR analysis along the reactor showed ammonia oxidizing bacteria being the prevalent nitrifiers over the three-fourths of the bed in the flow direction, negligible denitrifiers and absent ammonium oxidizing archaea. A numerical model for predicting the concentration of the nitrogen species and DO was formulated. The model successfully predicted the experimental results and displayed good sensitivity to intrinsic oxygen uptake parameters. The proposed numerical model can serve both as an operational and design tool.

Original languageEnglish
Article number121599
JournalBioresource Technology
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2019


  • Dissolved oxygen
  • Nitritation control
  • Numerical simulation
  • Recirculation ratio
  • Up-flow fixed bed reactor

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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