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Influence of carbon to nitrogen ratio on nitrous oxide emission in an Integrated Fixed Film Activated Sludge Membrane BioReactor plant

  • Authors: Mannina, Giorgio; Ekama, George A.; Capodici, Marco; Cosenza, Alida*; Di Trapani, Daniele; Ødegaard, Hallvard; van Loosdrecht, Mark M.C.
  • Publication year: 2018
  • Type: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
  • OA Link:


In this study a University of Cape Town (UCT) Integrated Fixed Film Activated Sludge (IFAS) Membrane BioReactor (MBR) wastewater treatment plant was monitored in terms of nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. The short term effect on the N2O emission due to the influent carbon-to-nitrogen (C/N) ratio variation (C/N ratios of 2, 5 and 10 gCOD/gN) was evaluated. Since in a previous study, the effect of the C/N ratio was studied in the same system without biofilm (UCT-MBR configuration) the main aim here was to investigate the role of biofilms on N2O emissions. Under all the investigated C/N ratios, the N2O fluxes and the average emission factors were lower than that of previous studies with no biofilm presence. The total average N2O emission was 0.5% of the influent nitrogen with biofilm (IFAS system) and 3.5% without biofilm. This result emphasizes the potential role of the biofilms in attenuating the N2O emissions especially in the case of stress conditions (i.e., low C/N influent ratios). An increase of N2O flux from the anoxic reactor (till 28 mgN2O m−2h−1) occurred at the lowest influent C/N tested (2 gCOD/gN - phase III). At C/N equal to 2 gCOD/gN the anoxic reactor was the main source of N2O, contributing 45% of all produced N2O. This result was attributed to an incomplete denitrification caused by a lack of organic carbon and a slight increase of dissolved oxygen concentration.