For digestion effluent treatment, while the anammox-based process has been successfully applied for nitrogen removal, in most cases, phosphorus (P) represents another major concern. In this study, a novel process, integrating the partial nitritation/anammox and hydroxyapatite crystallization (PNA-HAP) in a single airlift reactor, was developed for the simultaneous nitrogen removal and P recovery from synthetic digestion effluent. With a stable influent P concentration of 20.0 mg/L, an HRT of 6 h, and alternating increases of influent calcium and ammonium, the final achieved nitrogen removal rate was 1.2 kg/m3/d and the P removal efficiency was 83.0%. The settleability of sludge was desirably enhanced with the calcium addition and a high biomass concentration was achieved in reactor. Quantitative and qualitative analyses confirmed that HAP was the main inorganic content in sludge, which could be harvested for P recovery. According to the Scanning Electron Microscope observation and the Energy Dispersive X-ray spectrometry analysis, the microbes were mainly distributed on the outer layer of the sludge aggregate, while the HAP mainly in the interior. The relevant theoretical calculation also revealed that the sludge discharge manipulation has direct effect on the sludge composition and aggregate structure. In sum, the results are evidence of the feasibility of simultaneous nitrogen removal and P recovery through one-stage PNA-HAP process for digestion effluent.
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