Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering


Civil and Environmental Engineering


College of Engineering


Nirupam Pal

Advisor Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Advisor College

College of Engineering


Nitrogen pollution is a growing problem that is detrimental to the environment and the economy. Traditional treatment of nitrogen is a multi-stage process, expensive, operationally intensive, and requires large land areas. This research studied the effects of BiOWiSH® Aqua (Aqua), a biological enhancement product, on the simultaneous nitrification and denitrification process in a membrane aerated bioreactor (MABR) to determine if it is a feasible application for wastewater treatment. The MABR used during experimentation was a small-scale batch reactor with a continuous flow of air through a silicone membrane.

The effect of carbon source and concentration on nitrogen removal rates and biomass growth/behavior were determined through a series of laboratory experiments with Aqua and wastewater. With glucose and solely Aqua cultures, average reduction rates in nitrogen concentrations were 1.2 mg-N/L/hour for all C:N ratios investigated. When wastewater was used as the main carbon source, creating a mix of wastewater and Aqua bacteria in the MABR, average reduction rates were 10.9 mg-N/L/hour. A maximum reduction rate of 21.3 mg-N/L/hour occurred at a 2:1 C:N ratio.

This research concluded that pure Aqua cultures are not efficient at removing nitrogen or greatly augment the nitrogen reduction process. MABRs can use the biochemical oxygen demand in wastewater as a useful/viable carbon source. High carbon to nitrogen ratios (C:N ratio of 30:1) did not result in faster nitrogen reduction rates but did experience rapid biofilm growth and death. This shows that high C:N ratios are not an efficient operationally for MABRs due to the excess sludge created. C:N ratios of v approximately 3:1 provided the most consistent nitrogen reduction for both glucose and wastewater. This research concluded that C:N ratios, pH, and oxygen diffusion heavily affect the MABR’s performance. In addition, MABRs can utilize low C:N ratios during treatment, particularly during the treatment of high-strength wastewater.