Physical–chemical characterization of sludge and granular materials from a vertical flow constructed wetland for municipal wastewater treatment

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

The use of vertical flow constructed wetlands (VFCWs) is well developed in France and other countries for the treatment of wastewaters from small communities. The patented Azoé® process has been developed by a French company, SCIRPE, in order to improve denitrification and phosphorus removal as compared to classical VFCWs. It includes a biological trickling filter pretreatment followed by two stages of partially flooded VFCW. The performances of partially flooded VFCW are well demonstrated for the removal of organic matter and nitrogen. The system is now being considered for phosphorus removal as well. In this article, sludge and granular materials sampled from the filters of a municipal plant where the Azoé® system has been operated for 8 years were analyzed in order to provide data that may contribute to a better understanding of the dynamics of phosphorus retention. Elemental analyses showed that phosphorus was predominantly captured in the sludge layer accumulated at the surface of the first stage. The progressive mineralization of the sludge over time was also clearly highlighted. The phosphate phases were mainly associated with iron and calcium. The transport of phosphorus via the migration of fine particles through the porous medium in the first stage was also observed.

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