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Success of mainstream partial nitritation/anammox demands integration of engineering, microbiome and modeling insights

Agrawal, Shelesh, Seuntjens, Dries, Cocker, Pieter De, Lackner, Susanne, Vlaeminck, Siegfried E
Current opinion in biotechnology 2018 v.50 pp. 214-221
anaerobic ammonium oxidation, engineering, microbial competition, microbiome, microorganisms, models, municipal wastewater, nitrogen, organic carbon, oxygen, research and development, resource management, sewage treatment, sowing, synergism
Twenty years ago, mainstream partial nitritation/anammox (PN/A) was conceptually proposed as pivotal for a more sustainable treatment of municipal wastewater. Its economic potential spurred research, yet practice awaits a comprehensive recipe for microbial resource management. Implementing mainstream PN/A requires transferable and operable ways to steer microbial competition as to meet discharge requirements on a year-round basis at satisfactory conversion rates. In essence, the competition for nitrogen, organic carbon and oxygen is grouped into ‘ON/OFF’ (suppression/promotion) and ‘IN/OUT’ (wash-out/retention and seeding) strategies, selecting for desirable conversions and microbes. Some insights need mechanistic understanding, while empirical observations suffice elsewhere. The provided methodological R&D framework integrates insights in engineering, microbiome and modeling. Such synergism should catalyze the implementation of energy-positive sewage treatment.