Long-term ammonia removal in a coconut fiber-packed biofilter: Analysis of N fractionation and reactor performance under steady-state and transient conditions

Guillermo Baquerizo, Juan P. Maestre, Vinicius C. Machado, Xavier Gamisans, David Gabriel

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33 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A comprehensive study of long-term ammonia removal in a biofilter packed with coconut fiber is presented under both steady-state and transient conditions. Low and high ammonia loads were applied to the reactor by varying the inlet ammonia concentration from 90 to 260 ppmv and gas contact times ranging from 20 to 36 s. Gas samples and leachate measurements were periodically analyzed and used for characterizing biofilter performance in terms of removal efficiency (RE) and elimination capacity (EC). Also, N fractions in the leachate were quantified to both identify the experimental rates of nitritation and nitratation and to determine the N leachate distribution. Results showed stratification in the biofilter activity and, thus, most of the NH3 removal was performed in the lower part of the reactor. An average EC of 0.5 kg N-NH3 m-3 d-1 was obtained for the whole reactor with a maximum local average EC of 1.7 kg N-NH3 m-3 d-1. Leachate analyses showed that a ratio of 1:1 of ammonium and nitrate ions in the leachate was obtained throughout steady-state operation at low ammonia loads with similar values for nitritation and nitratation rates. Low nitratation rates during high ammonia load periods occurred because large amounts of ammonium and nitrite accumulated in the packed bed, thus causing inhibition episodes on nitrite-oxidizing bacteria due to free ammonia accumulation. Mass balances showed that 50% of the ammonia fed to the reactor was oxidized to either nitrite or nitrate and the rest was recovered as ammonium indicating that sorption processes play a fundamental role in the treatment of ammonia by biofiltration. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2293-2301
JournalWater Research
Volume43
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2009

Keywords

  • Ammonia removal
  • Coconut fiber
  • Gas-phase biofiltration
  • Leachate characterization
  • Long-term operation

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