In this paper the nitrogen elimination rates of different constructed wetland (CW) designs reported in literature are compared with those obtained for outdoor and indoor 2-stage vertical flow (VF) systems. The outdoor system is located about 150 km west of Vienna. Both stages are planted with Phragmites australis and the system has been operated for 4 years continuously. During this period the average value of the nitrogen elimination rate was 3.30 g N m−2 d−1. The indoor system comprises three parallel operated 2-stage VF systems and is located in the technical lab hall at BOKU University. The design of the indoor system resembles the outdoor system. However, there are a few differences: (1) the indoor systems are not planted, and (2) different filter media have been used for the main layer of the first stages. With the indoor system the highest nitrogen elimination rate achieved was 2.24 g N m−2 d−1 for the system with zeolite and impounded drainage layer. Similar results have been found in France for treating raw wastewater with VF and horizontal flow (HF) beds in series with nitrogen elimination rates of 1.89 and 2.82 g N m−2 d−1 for differently designed HF beds. The highest nitrogen elimination rates of 15.9 g N m−2 d−1 reported were for pilot-scale VF CWs treating high-strength synthetic wastewater (total nitrogen of 305 mg L−1 in the influent) in Thailand. It has been shown that the outdoor two-stage VF CW system has one of the highest nitrogen elimination rates of CWs treating domestic wastewater.
Keywords: constructed wetland design, nitrogen removal, two-stage vertical flow