A lab-scale activated-sludge type reactor was used to induce denitrification by using the organic solid waste of a typical Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) as the electron donor ('Single-sludge denitrification'). The results were compared with the predictions of a stoichiometry-based model. As predicted by the model, reactor's performance was found to be strongly related to the mean solids retention time (SRT) employed. Measured denitrification rates conformed very well to model predictions. High nitrate removal rates of up to 590 mg N (Lreactord)- 1 were recorded at a relatively low SRT of 4 d. Oxygen, that entered the reactor via both atmospheric diffusion and with the stream used to simulate the influent from a fish tank, reduced the amount of organic matter available for denitrification, resulting in lower denitrification rates. This interference was more significant when the system was operated at the longer SRTs. Most of the excess ammonia released to the aqueous phase through ammonification was oxidized (presumably by anammox bacteria) under the prevailing anoxic conditions, resulting in very low effluent TAN concentrations. Phosphate release to the aqueous phase was significantly lower than predicted, suggesting above-typical microbial P assimilation. Reaction kinetics was found to be zero order with respect to nitrate at concentrations of above 1.5 to 2.0 mg N L- 1. Taken together the findings indicate that intensive single-sludge denitrification for treating RAS effluents is technically feasible, and that the process appears to be a cost-effective solution to reducing both the nutrient and the organic loads generated by intensive fish farms. The main advantages of the method include minimal formation of undesired by-products, small reactor volume and simple control and operation. Furthermore, the process is well described by a conceptual mathematical model, allowing its application as a part of any RAS design.
- Nitrate removal