Nitrogen removal via the nitrite pathway results in significant savings in both aeration costs and COD requirements for denitrification when compared to the conventional biological nitrogen removal process. Implementation of the nitrite pathway for simultaneous C/N/P removal in a single sludge system has a major drawback: the aeration phase disfavours denitrifying phosphorus removal. A possible configuration to overcome this issue is the utilisation of a two-sludge system where autotrophic and heterotrophic populations are physically separated. This paper experimentally demonstrates the feasibility of a nitrite-based two-sludge system with sequencing batch reactors (SBR) for the treatment of urban wastewater: a heterotrophic SBR with denitrifying PAOs for P removal and an aerobic SBR for N removal. Partial nitrification was attained in the autotrophic SBR so that shortcut biological nitrogen removal was achieved by using the anoxic dephosphatation activity of DPAOs. Finally, the effect of operating this system without pH control was studied using different influent pH values (pH = 6.8, 7.5 and 8.2) and, despite some efficiency lost due to the pH fluctuations, the system was able to remove most of the C, N and P present in the wastewater.
Keywords: nitrite DPAO, nitrite pathway, pH control, SBR, two-sludge