A Better Way to Denitrify Wastewater

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Science  10 Aug 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6095, pp. 675
DOI: 10.1126/science.337.6095.675

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In the early 1990s, microbiologists discovered a new microbe in wastewater that turned existing dogma about ammonia's conversion to nitrogen compounds on its ear. Called anammox (for anaerobic ammonium oxidation), the microbe converts ammonia into nitrogen gas in the absence of oxygen, a reaction previously thought impossible. Now, researchers consider anammox bacteria to be essential components of the global nitrogen cycle and estimate that they account for 50% of the world's nitrogen turnover. And they believe the microbes could dramatically improve methods of removing ammonia from wastewater streams at large municipal plants.