Coking wastewater is one of the most toxic industrial effluents since it contains high concentrations of ammonia and toxic organic compounds. Nitrification might be upset by the inhibitory effect of organic compounds during the biological treatment of the wastewater. In this study, shortcut nitrification was obtained in a sequencing batch bioreactor (SBR) and the inhibitory effect of organic compounds on the nitrification was examined when temperature was 30±1°C, pH was 7.0–8.5, and dissolved oxygen concentration was 2.0–3.0 mg L−1. The inhibitory effect of organic compounds was presumed to be one of the main factors to obtain satisfactory nitrite accumulation. The effect of organic compounds on nitrification was examined in the SBR with initial inhibitor concentrations ranging from 0 to 80 mg L−1, including phenol, pyrocatechol, resorcin, benzene, quinoline, pyridine and indole. The inhibitory effect became stronger with the increase in the concentration, and it was presumed to take place through a direct mechanism resulting from biological toxicity of the inhibitor itself. Furthermore, the inhibitory effect on ammonia oxidation was slighter than that on nitrite oxidation, and the nitrite accumulation ratio during the nitrification was determined by the difference between the reaction rates of above two processes.
Keywords: coking wastewater, inhibitory effect, nitrification, nitrite accumulation, organic compounds