IWA Publishing

Enhanced nitrogen removal in trickling filter plants

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The Beaudesert Sewage Treatment Plant (STP), originally built in 1966 and augmented in 1977, is a typical biological trickling filter (TF) STP comprising primary sedimentation tanks (PSTs), TFs and humus tanks. The plant, despite not originally being designed for nitrogen removal, has been consistently achieving over 60% total nitrogen reduction and low effluent ammonium concentration of less than 5 mg NH3-N/L. Through the return of a NO3-rich stream from the humus tanks to the PSTs and maintaining an adequate sludge age within the PSTs, the current plant is achieving a substantial degree of denitrification. Further enhanced denitrification has been achieved by raising the recycle flows and maintaining an adequate solids retention time (SRT) within the PSTs. This paper describes the approach to operating a TF plant to achieve a high degree of nitrification and denitrification. The effectiveness of this approach is demonstrated through the pilot plant trial. The results from the pilot trial demonstrate a significant improvement in nitrogen removal performance whilst maximising the asset life of the existing infrastructure. This shows great potential as a retrofit option for small and rural communities with pre-existing TFs that require improvements in terms of nitrogen removal.

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