Sustainability (Switzerland), vol.15, no.8, 2023 (SCI-Expanded)
Supplementation of alternative carbon sources is a technological bottleneck, particularly in post-denitrification processes due to stringent effluent nitrogen levels. This study focuses on enhancing the sustainability of wastewater treatment practices by partially replacing conventionally used fossil-derived methanol with organic waste-derived volatile fatty acids (VFAs) in moving bed biofilm reactors (MBBRs). In this regards, results of denitrification batch assays with sequential or simultaneous addition of VFA effluent from acidogenic fermentation of potato starch residue (AD-VFAPPL) and chicken manure (AD-VFACKM), simulated synthetic VFAs solutions (sVFAs), and methanol as carbon source were presented and discussed. Although methanol has proven superior in the conversion of nitrate to nitrite, VFAs are more effective when it comes to reducing nitrite. Although solely added AD-VFAPPL had a slower denitrification capability (0.56 ± 0.13 mgNOx-N removed/m2/day) than methanol (1.04 ± 0.46 mgNOx-N removed/m2/day), up to 50% of the methanol can be replaced by waste-derived AD-VFAPPL and achieve comparable performance (1.08 ± 0.07 mgNOx-N removed/m2/day) with the pure methanol. This proves that the co-addition of VFAs together with methanol can fully compete with pure methanol in performance, providing a promising opportunity for wastewater treatment plants to potentially reduce their carbon footprint and become more sustainable in practice while benefiting from recovered nutrients from waste.