Nitrous oxide emissions from denitrifying activated sludge of urban wastewater treatment plants, under anoxia and low oxygenation

Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsTallec, G, Garnier, J, Billen, G, Gousailles, M
JournalBioresource Technology
Start Page2200
Date Published05/2008
Mots-clésactivated sludge, denitrification, N2O emission, wastewater treatment plant

Batch experiments were made to better understand the mechanisms of N2O emissions from activated sludge in denitrifying conditions found in urban WWTPs, i.e. under anoxic and low oxygenation conditions.

The results showed that in completely anoxic conditions, denitrification, related to a periplasmic nitrate reductase activity, is the major producer of N2O (100% of the N2O production), whereas the nitrate ammonifying activity is not significant.

In a gradient of low oxygenation, the highest N2O emissions (49.7 ± 3.8 μg N2O–N/g SS/h on average) occurred at a dissolved-oxygen concentration of around 0.3 mg O2/L. Below 0.3 mg O2/L, heterotrophic denitrification appeared to be the major process responsible for the N2O emission (100% at zero oxygenation). From 0.4 to 1.1 mg O2/L, N2O emissions were due to two processes: (i) heterotrophic denitrification that represented about 40% of the N2O production, and (ii) autotrophic nitrifier denitrification that accounted for about 60%. The N2O emissions from activated sludge represented on average 0.4% of reduced NO3- in anoxic conditions. The N2O emissions associated with denitrification of entire nitrogen load would amount to 155 T N2O–N/year, if all the Paris wastewater was treated by a process using activated sludge.