IWA Publishing

IWA Publishing

Electrochemically-assisted ammonia recovery from wastewater using a floating electrode


Courtesy of IWA Publishing

This work presents and explores a novel methodology for the removal and recovery of ammonia from wastewater based upon two mechanisms: electrochemical oxidation and a previously unreported electrochemically-assisted surface transfer mechanism. Recovery of ammonia is enabled by placing a porous cathodic electrode at the wastewater-air interface. In this configuration, the cathode creates local alkalinity and an electric field that draws ammonium ions towards the wastewater-air interface, resulting in near-linear reductions of dissolved ammonium irrespective of concentration. This approach leads to significant ammonia recovery without the need for ion-exchange membranes. In addition, anodic reactions that simultaneously occur at depth in the wastewater induce ammonia oxidation in accordance with proven mechanisms. The floating electrode approach offers improved ammonia removal efficiency in comparison to electrooxidation. Trials conducted on synthetic wastewater (900 mg NH4+-N l−1) and filtered anaerobic centrate (560 mg NH4+-N l−1) demonstrated ammonia concentration decreases up to 216 mg l−1 hr−1 and 110 mg l−1 hr−1, respectively, under the application of 5 mA cm−2 current density. The technology would be best used to treat municipal and industrial wastewaters possessing high ammonia concentration, including anaerobic digester centrate and urine, and offers potential to assist in removing ammonia from environmental waters.

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