Autotrophic nitrogen removal from black water: Calcium addition as a requirement for settleability

M.S. de Graaff, B.G. Temmink, G. Zeeman, M.C.M. Loosdrecht, C.J.N. Buisman

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72 Citations (Scopus)


Black (toilet) water contains half of the organic load in the domestic wastewater, as well as the major fraction of the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus. When collected with vacuum toilets, the black water is 25 times more concentrated than the total domestic wastewater stream, i.e. including grey water produced by laundry, showers etc. A two-stage nitritation–anammox process was successfully employed and removed 85%–89% of total nitrogen in anaerobically treated black water. The (free) calcium concentration in black water was too low (42 mg/L) to obtain sufficient granulation of anammox biomass. The granulation and retention of the biomass was improved considerably by the addition of 39 mg/L of extra calcium. This resulted in a volumetric nitrogen removal rate of 0.5 gN/L/d, irrespective of the two temperatures of 35 °C and 25 °C at which the anammox reactors were operated. Nitrous oxide, a very strong global warming gas, was produced in situations of an incomplete anammox conversion accompanied by elevated levels of nitrite.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-74
JournalWater Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • sequencing batch reactor
  • anammox process
  • membrane bioreactor
  • partial nitritation
  • ammonium oxidation
  • nitric-oxide
  • bacteria
  • mechanisms
  • management
  • tool

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