Posted in | News | Water | Sustainability

Harnessing Acid-Resistant Microbes to Clean Wastewater More Sustainably

Free nitrous acid (FNA) is known for its capacity to inhibit various microorganisms in wastewater systems, significantly benefiting treatment process management. Initially deemed problematic due to its potential adverse effects on treatment, FNA is now employed to enhance wastewater management by mitigating odors, emissions, and harmful bacteria. Nonetheless, the traditional production of FNA is expensive, dependent on substantial chemical inputs. Recent advancements strive to optimize and render its production more economical.

A groundbreaking perspectives, published in Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering on 05 December 2023, introduces a novel approach for sustainable wastewater management. Leveraging the unique properties of FNA, researchers aim to create more energy-efficient and sustainable wastewater systems.

The study introduces an innovative approach in wastewater management by exploring the potential of acid-tolerant ammonia oxidizers (AOB) to produce FNA directly from domestic wastewater. This method utilizes the biocidal effects of FNA, traditionally limited by chemical costs, to improve various wastewater treatment processes. Researchers have identified acid-tolerant AOBs like Nitrosospira, Nitrosococcus, and Candidatus Nitrosoglobus, which flourish in acidic conditions that usually inhibit standard AOBs. The resilience of these organisms to strong FNA enables in situ generation of FNA, eliminating the need for external nitrite and acid, thus reducing operational costs and chemical usage. The application of these acid-tolerant AOBs effectively lowers wastewater pH and functions optimally in acidic conditions, offering a more sustainable and energy-efficient wastewater management system. This innovative approach aims to leverage the natural abilities of these organisms to boost the efficiency and sustainability of wastewater treatment, marking a significant progression in environmental engineering.


  • The historical development of free nitrous acid (FNA) technologies is reviewed.
  • The roles of novel acid-tolerant ammonia oxidizers are highlighted.
  •  Acid-tolerant ammonia oxidizers can self-sustain high-level FNA production.
  • The next-generation in situ FNA-based technologies are discussed.

Researchers state, "This study not only redefines the efficiency and sustainability of wastewater management but also demonstrates the remarkable adaptability and resilience of novel microbiological processes in environmental engineering."

Implementing acid-tolerant AOB in wastewater systems has demonstrated the potential for energy self-sufficiency and enhanced sustainability. By effectively reducing wastewater pH and operating optimally in acidic conditions, these AOBs can significantly enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of wastewater management without requiring external acids. This approach not only offers broader possibilities for enhancing wastewater management but also signifies a considerable advancement towards environmentally sustainable practices.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this news story?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.