Importance of hydroxylamine in abiotic N2O production during transient anoxia in planktonic axenic Nitrosomonas cultures

Aina Soler-Jofra, Cristian Picioreanu, Ran Yu, Kartik Chandran, Mark C.M. van Loosdrecht, Julio Pérez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


When investigating the N2O emissions by ammonia oxidizing bacteria, research has mainly focused on identifying and quantifying the biological pathways. This work evaluated previous studies with Nitrosomonas europaea (ATCC 19718) and assessed the role of the abiotic reaction of hydroxylamine with free nitrous acid during transient anoxia. In cultivations when transient anoxia is cyclically imposed, nitrous oxide and hydroxylamine peaked every time upon recovery to aerobic conditions. When using the same culture conditions abiotically (i.e., without biomass, but adding hydroxylamine and nitrite), the volumetric N2O emission rates were very comparable to those from the biological experiments, ranging from 0.04 to 0.08 mg-N/L/h in both abiotic and biotic conditions. These results demonstrate that at the culture conditions tested, abiotically produced N2O is likely the major source of emission. Therefore, for the correct investigation of the biological pathways, abiotic tests must always be performed and hydroxylamine should be added. To our knowledge there is no means to distinguish abiotic from biological N2O production in a biological system, even using N15 labelling. We suggest that the contribution of abiotic N2O emissions can be minimized by, for example, maintaining lower nitrite concentration and higher pH.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)756-762
Number of pages7
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Generated from Scopus record by KAUST IRTS on 2022-09-13

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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