Nitrogen and phosphorus transformations in fixed-film biofilters subjected to aeration/no-aeration cycles

Hijazi, Amal, (1998) Nitrogen and phosphorus transformations in fixed-film biofilters subjected to aeration/no-aeration cycles. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Despite recent developments in fixed-film combined biological nutrients removal (BNR) technology; fixed-film systems (i.e., biofilters), are still at the early stages of development and their application has been limited to a few laboratory-scale experiments. Achieving enhanced biological phosphorus removal in fixed-film systems requires exposing the micro-organisms and the waste stream to alternating anaerobic/aerobic or anaerobic/anoxic conditions in cycles. The concept of cycle duration (CD) as a process control parameter is unique to fixed-film BNR systems, has not been previously investigated, and can be used to optimise the performance of such systems. The CD refers to the elapsed time before the biomass is re-exposed to the same environmental conditions in cycles.

Fixed-film systems offer many advantages over suspended growth systems such as reduced operating costs, simplicity of operation, absence of sludge recycling problems, and compactness. The control of nutrient discharges to water bodies, improves water quality, fish production, and allow water reuse. The main objective of this study was to develop a fundamental understanding of the effect of CD on the transformations of nutrients in fixed-film biofilter systems subjected to alternating aeration I no-aeration cycles A fixed-film biofilter system consisting of three up-flow biofilters connected in series was developed and tested. The first and third biofilters were operated in a cyclic mode in which the biomass was subjected to aeration/no-aeration cycles. The influent wastewater was simulated aquaculture whose composition was based on actual water quality parameters of aquacuture wastewater from a prawn grow-out facility. The influent contained 8.5 - 9:3 mg!L a111monia-N, 8.5- 8.7 mg/L phosphate-P, and 45- 50 mg!L acetate. Two independent studies were conducted at two biofiltration rates to evaluate and confirm the effect of CD on nutrient transformations in the biofilter system for application in aquaculture: A third study was conducted to enhance denitrification in the system using an external carbon- source at a rate varying from 0-24 ml/min. The CD was varied in the range of0.25- 120 hours for the first two studies and fixed at 12 hours for the third study.

This study identified the CD as an important process control parameter that can be used to optimise the performance of full-scale fixed-film systems for BNR which represents a novel contribution in this field of research. The CD resulted in environmental conditions that inhibited or enhanced nutrient transformations. The effect of CD on BNR in fixed-film systems in terms of phosphorus biomass saturation and depletion has been established. Short CDs did not permit the establishment of anaerobic activity in the un-aerated biofilter and, thus, inhibited phosphorus release.

Long CDs resulted in extended anaerobic activity and, thus, resulted in active phosphorus release. Long CDs, however, resulted in depleting the biomass phosphorus reservoir in the releasing biofilter and saturating the biomass phosphorus reservoir in the up-taking biofilter in the cycle. This phosphorus biomass saturation/depletion phenomenon imposes a practical limit on how short or long the CD can be. The length of the CD should be somewhere just before saturation or depletion occur and for the system tested, the optimal CD was 12 hours for the biofiltration rates tested.

The system achieved limited net phosphorus removal due to the limited sludge wasting and lack of external carbon supply during phosphorus uptake. The phosphorus saturation and depletion reflected the need to extract phosphorus from the phosphorus-rich micro-organisms, for example, through back-washing. The major challenges of achieving phosphorus removal in the system included: (I) overcoming the deterioration in the performance of the system during the transition period following the start of each new cycle; and (2) wasting excess phosphorus-saturated biomass following the aeration cycle. Denitrification occurred in poorly aerated sections of the third biofilter and generally declined as the CD increased and as the time progressed in the individual cycle. Denitrification and phosphorus uptake were supplied by an internal organic carbon source, and the addition of an external carbon source (acetate) to the third biofilter resulted in improved denitrification efficiency in the system from 18.4 without supplemental carbon to 88.7% when the carbon dose reached 24 mL/min The removal of TOC and nitrification improved as the CD increased, as a result of the reduction in the frequency of transition periods between the cycles. A conceptual design of an effective fixed-film BNR biofilter system for the treatment of the influent simulated aquaculture wastewater was proposed based on the findings of the study.

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ID Code: 36070
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Refereed: No
Supervisor: Shanableh, Abdullah
Additional Information: Presented to the School of Civil Engineering, Queensland University of Technology.
Keywords: Sewage Purification Phosphate removal, Sewage Purification Biological treatment, Sewage Purification Filtration, Trickling filters, thesis, doctoral
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Amal, Hijazi
Deposited On: 22 Sep 2010 13:04
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2016 06:19

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