Performance of intermittent aeration reactor on NH4-N removal from groundwater resources

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To study the effect of intermittent aeration period on ammonium–nitrogen (NH4-N) removal from groundwater resources, synthetic groundwater was prepared and three reactors were operated under different conditions – “reactor A” under continuous aeration, “reactor B” under 6 h intermittent aeration, and “reactor C” under 2 h intermittent aeration. To facilitate denitrification simultaneously with nitrification, “acetate” was added as an external carbon source with step-wise increase from 0.5 to 1.5 C/N ratio, where C stands for total carbon content in the system, and N for NH4-N concentration in the synthetic groundwater. Results show that complete NH4-N removal was obtained in “reactor B” and “reactor C” at 1.3 and 1.5 C/N ratio respectively; and partial NH4-N removal in “reactor A”. These results suggest that intermittent aeration at longer interval could enhance the reactor performance on NH4-N removal in terms of efficiency and low external carbon requirement. Because of consumption of internal carbon by the process, less amount of external carbon is required. Further increase in carbon in a form of acetate (1.5 to 2.5 C/N ratios) increases removal rate (represented by reaction rate coefficient (k) of kinetic equation) as well as occurrence of free cells. It suggests that the operating condition at reactor B with 1.3 C/N ratio is more appropriate for long-term operation at a pilot-scale.

Keywords: groundwater, intermittent aeration, NH4-N removal, nitrification and denitrification, polyethylene glycol (PEG) pellet, stored carbon consumption

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