Application of anammox-based granular sludge reactors for municipal wastewater treatment



Nowadays, municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are typically designed to obtain a high degree removal of organic matter (COD) and nitrogen, which are mainly eliminated by oxidation. This does not only requires a large amount of aeration energy, but also causes the loss of the energy present in COD. To shift towards energy-neutral WWTPs, minimization of energy consumption and maximization of energy recovery are necessary. New configurations have been proposed for this purpose, based on the A/B process established in the 1970s. The A-stage of such future energy-neutral (or even energy-positive) WWTPs consists of a high–rate activated sludge system, where COD is removed and concentrated for subsequent energy recovery through anaerobic digestion. This step is followed by innovative anammox-based nitrogen removal for nutrient polishing (B-stage, see figure). 




This doctoral research project aims at extending the application of anammox-based systems to municipal wastewater (mainstream), which is relatively cold and diluted and contains organic carbon. This involves the following objectives:

  • To gain insight into the organotrophic pathway of anammmox bacteria;
  • To model and optimize the A-stage for subsequent implementation of anammox in the mainstream;
  • To assess and optimize different WWTP layouts towards energy-neutral WWTPs by plant-wide modelling


  • Mathematic modeling and simulation;
  • Lab-scale experiment with granular sludge reactors


Wastewater treatment; AB-process; biological nitrogen removal; granular sludge reactor; partial nitritation-anammox; DNRA; Energy-neutral WWTP


Project Administration

Researcher: Mingsheng Jia

Financing: Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC) and UGent Special Research Fund

Project duration: 01.11.2014 - 30.10.2018