A novel internal circulation contact oxidation membrane bioreactor (ICCOMBR) was constructed to investigate a three steps startup strategy of single-stage partial nitritation-anammox (SPNA) system. A stable nitrite accumulation rate (NAR) of 86.60% was achieved with NH4+-N over 250 mg/L in nitritation process. The partial nitritation process could be effectively achieved by reducing the aeration rate (AR) by about 50% in the nitritation process, with an effluent NO2−-N/NH4+-N ratio of 1.15 ± 0.04. The SPNA system was started up in 27 days following the inoculated anammox granular sludge. A total nitrogen removal efficiencies of 82% was achieved at a NLR of 0.60 gN/L/d and dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration below 0.55 mg/L. Anammox function genus (Ca.Kuenenia and Ca. Anammoximicrobium) abundance accounted for 20.77% in the biofilm, which is approximately equal to 22.2% in the suspended sludge. Nitrosomon as the dominant AOB genera, was detected in the biofilm (6.5%) and suspended sludge (13.3%).
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