Novel Use of a Ferric Salt to Enhance Mainstream Nitrogen Removal from Anaerobically Pretreated Wastewater

Zhetai Hu, Shihu Hu, Liu Ye, Haoran Duan, Ziping Wu, Pei-Ying Hong, Zhiguo Yuan, Min Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This study aims to demonstrate a new technology roadmap to support the ongoing paradigm shift in wastewater management from pollutant removal to resource recovery. This is achieved by developing a novel use of an iron salt (i.e., FeCl3) in an integrated anaerobic wastewater treatment and mainstream anammox process. FeCl3 was chosen to be dosed in a proposed sidestream unit rather than in a primary settler or a mainstream reactor. This causes acidification of returned activated sludge and enables stable suppression of nitrite-oxidizing bacterial activity and excess sludge reduction. A laboratory-scale system, which comprised an anaerobic baffled reactor, a continuous-flow anoxic–aerobic (A/O) reactor, and a secondary settler, was designed to treat real domestic wastewater, with the performance of the system comprehensively monitored under a steady-state condition. The experimental assessments showed that the system had good effluent quality, with total nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations of 12.6 ± 1.3 mg N/L and 0.34 ± 0.05 mg P/L, respectively. It efficiently retained phosphorus in excess sludge (0.18 ± 0.03 g P/g dry sludge), suggesting its potential for further recovery. About half of influent organic carbon was recovered in the form of bioenergy (i.e., methane). This together with low energy consumption revealed that the system could produce a net energy of about 0.11 kWh/m3-wastewater, assessed by an energy balance analysis.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
StatePublished - Apr 11 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemistry(all)


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