Biofilm carriers can avoid microorganism washout while maintaining a high amount of biomass, but are also associated with a long biofilm formation period and biofilm aging. A single stage partial nitritation/anammox process (single stage PN/A) reactor was setup to study the biofilm growth characterization and treatment performance under an NLR of 0.53 to 0.90 gN/L/d over one year. Biofilm growth was divided into three stages: the formation stage, maturation stage and aging stage. The initial biofilm was observed at day 84. A nitrogen removal efficiency of 83.4% was achieved at an NLR of 0.90 gN/L/d during the mature biofilm stage. Starvation, nitrogen gas accumulation and hydroxyapatite formation resulted in biofilm aging. After mechanical stirring treatment, biofilm reactivation was achieved by biofilm re-formation within one month. There is clear potential for phosphorus recovery, as indicated by the 5.24% - 6.29% phosphorus content in the biofilm (similar to the 5%-7% phosphorus content in enhanced biological phosphate removal sludge). The AnAOB genera abundance in the biofilm maintained at a high level of 18.25%-32.31%, while the abundance of AnAOB increased from the initial 4.10% to 13.78% after mechanical stirring treatment in the suspended sludge ensured biofilm reactivation. The results of this study clearly show that mechanical stirring treatment can be used to achieve the biofilm reactivation as the biofilm fills with the hollow cylindrical carrier. This study has potential as a useful reference for the realization of the wide application of the biofilm single stage PN/A process in the future.
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