Anammox (anaerobic ammonia oxidation) has received much attention in the past 10 years as it allows for lower utility costs over the more common practice of aerobic ammonia removal (nitrification). The reactions are as follows:
While the first step in ammonia removal is the same in both, the second step is biological short-cut that simplifies by converting nitrite and ammonia directly into nitrogen gas – thereby avoiding the denitrification step needed to meet modern total nitrogen permits.
While very successful anammox based systems have been constructed, we still do not really know much about the organisms that power the anammox process. So far what we know is:
The results of the results of the DNA sequencing have made the anammox puzzle even more interesting. Instead of typical bacteria, the anammox granules have a very unusual genome. They do not have many genes considered essential for bacteria. The researchers have called anammox populations the equivalent of “Microbial Dark Matter” – where much is yet to be learned.
Erik Rumbaugh has been involved in biological waste treatment for over 20 years. He has worked with industrial and municipal wastewater facilities to ensure optimal performance of their treatment systems. He is a founder of Aster Bio (www.asterbio.com) specializing in biological waste treatment.
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