IWA Publishing

Bioelectrochemical nitrogen removal as a polishing mechanism for domestic wastewater treated effluents

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Addition of an external carbon source is usually necessary to guarantee a sufficiently high C/N ratio and enable denitrification in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Alternatively, denitrification processes using autotrophic microorganisms have been proposed i.e., with the use of H2 as electron donor or with the use of cathodic denitrification in bioelectrochemical systems (BES), in which electrons are transferred directly to a denitrifying biofilm. The aim of this work was to investigate and demonstrate the feasibility of applying an easy-to-operate BES as a polishing mechanism for treated secondary clarified effluent from a municipal WWTP, containing low levels of organic matter, buffer capacity and low concentrations of remaining nitrate. In the proposed system, nitrogen removal rates (0.018–0.121 Kg N m−3 d−1) increased with the nitrogen loading rates, suggesting that biofilm kinetics were not rate limiting. The lowest energy consumption for denitrification was 12.7 kWh Kg N−1, equivalent to 0.021 kWh m−3 and could be further reduced by 14% by adding recirculation circuits within both the anode and cathode.

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