To study the performance of an attached growth reactor on nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N) removal by a hydrogenotrophic denitrification process, the reactor was operated under various H2 flow rates (30, 50 and 70 mL/min), hydraulic retention times (HRTs) (2.6, 3.1, 4.7 and 6.7 h) and inorganic carbon (IC) concentrations (excess and no IC addition). Synthetic NO3-N water was prepared in accordance with the groundwater quality of the study area: Chyasal in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. The results show an increase in denitrification efficiency with H2 flow rate and HRT. Further, for effective denitrification, the dissolved hydrogen (DH) during operation should be maintained at greater than 0.1 mg/L. A sharp decrease in the denitrification efficiency from ∼96% (under excess IC) to 10–35% (under no IC) suggested occurrence of denitrification inside the attached growth reactor by a hydrogenotrophic process (using H2) as well as heterotrophic process (using internal organic carbon). The good performance of the attached growth reactor in terms of high efficiency, low H2 supply and short HRT requirement indicates the reactor's appropriateness for groundwater remediation through NO3-N removal.
Keywords: attached growth reactor, groundwater remediation, hydrogenotrophic denitrification, NO3-N removal