Effect of methane partial pressure on the performance of a membrane biofilm reactor coupling methane-dependent denitrification and anammox

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Journal Article
Science of the Total Environment, 2018, 639 pp. 278 - 285
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© 2018 Complete nitrogen removal has recently been demonstrated by integrating anaerobic ammonium oxidation (anammox) and denitrifying anaerobic methane oxidation (DAMO) processes. In this work, the effect of methane partial pressure on the performance of a membrane biofilm reactor (MBfR) consisting of DAMO and anammox microorganisms was evaluated. The activities of DAMO archaea and DAMO bacteria in the biofilm increased significantly with increased methane partial pressure, from 367 ± 9 and 58 ± 22 mg-N L−1d−1 to 580 ± 12 and 222 ± 22 mg-N L−1d−1, respectively, while the activity of anammox bacteria only increased slightly, when the methane partial pressure was elevated from 0.24 to 1.39 atm in the short-term batch tests. The results were supported by a long-term (seven weeks) continuous test, when the methane partial pressure was dropped from 1.39 to 0.78 atm. The methane utilization efficiency was always above 96% during both short-term and long-term tests. Taken together, nitrogen removal rate (especially the nitrate reduction rate by DAMO archaea) and methane utilization efficiency could be maintained at high levels in a broad range of methane partial pressure (0.24–1.39 atm in this study). In addition, a previously established DAMO/anammox biofilm model was used to analyze the experimental data. The observed impacts of methane partial pressure on biofilm activity were well explained by the modeling results. These results suggest that methane partial pressure can potentially be used as a manipulated variable to control reaction rates, ultimately to maintain high nitrogen removal efficiency, according to nitrogen loading rate.
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