Integrated shortcut nitrogen and biological phosphorus removal from mainstream wastewater: Process operation and modeling

Paul Roots, Fabrizio Sabba, Alex F. Rosenthal, Yubo Wang, Quan Yuan, Leiv Rieger, Fenghua Yang, Joseph A. Kozak, Heng Zhang, George F. Wells*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


While enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) is widely utilized for phosphorus (P) removal from wastewater, understanding of efficient process alternatives that allow combined biological P removal and shortcut nitrogen (N) removal, such as nitritation-denitritation, is limited. Here, we demonstrate efficient and reliable combined total N, P, and chemical oxygen demand removal (70%, 83%, and 81%, respectively) in a sequencing batch reactor (SBR) treating real mainstream wastewater (primary effluent) at 20 °C. Anaerobic-aerobic cycling (with intermittent oxic/anoxic periods during aeration) was used to achieve consistent removal rates, nitrite oxidizing organism (NOO) suppression, and high effluent quality. Importantly, high resolution process monitoring coupled to ex situ batch activity assays demonstrated that robust biological P removal was coupled to energy and carbon efficient nitritation-denitritation, not simultaneous nitrification-denitrification, for the last >400 days of 531 total days of operation. Nitrous oxide emissions of 2.2% relative to the influent TKN (or 5.2% relative to total inorganic nitrogen removal) were similar to those measured in other shortcut N bioprocesses. No exogenous chemicals were needed to achieve consistent process stability and high removal rates in the face of frequent wet weather flows and highly variable influent concentrations. Process modeling reproduced the performance observed in the SBR and confirmed that nitrite drawdown via denitritation contributed to suppression of NOO activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)566-580
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironmental Science: Water Research and Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology


Dive into the research topics of 'Integrated shortcut nitrogen and biological phosphorus removal from mainstream wastewater: Process operation and modeling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this