Nitrous oxide emission during wastewater treatment

M.J. Kampschreur, B.G. Temmink, R. Kleerebezem, M.S.M. Jetten, M.C.M. Loosdrecht

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Nitrous oxide (N2O), a potent greenhouse gas, can be emitted during wastewater treatment, significantly contributing to the greenhouse gas footprint. Measurements at lab-scale and full-scale wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) have demonstrated that N2O can be emitted in substantial amounts during nitrogen removal in WWTPs, however, a large variation in reported emission values exists. Analysis of literature data enabled the identification of the most important operational parameters leading to N2O emission in WWTPs: (i) low dissolved oxygen concentration in the nitrification and denitrification stages, (ii) increased nitrite concentrations in both nitrification and denitrification stages, and (iii) low COD/N ratio in the denitrification stage. From the literature it remains unclear whether nitrifying or denitrifying microorganisms are the main source of N2O emissions. Operational strategies to prevent N2O emission from WWTPs are discussed and areas in which further research is urgently required are identified
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4093-4103
JournalWater Research
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • denitrification
  • greenhouse effect
  • nitric oxide
  • nitrification
  • nitrous oxide
  • waste water treatment
  • greenhouse gases
  • nitrogen
  • removal
  • biological phosphorus removal
  • denitrifying activated-sludge
  • sequencing batch reactor
  • treatment-plant
  • alcaligenes-faecalis
  • dinitrogen oxide
  • n2o production
  • simultaneous nitrification
  • aerobic denitrification
  • autotrophic nitrifiers

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