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Water SA

On-line version ISSN 1816-7950
Print version ISSN 0378-4738

Water SA vol.34 n.1 Pretoria Jan. 2008


Biological nitrate removal in a laboratory-scale slow sand filter



Sukru Asian

Cumhuriyet University Department of Environmental Engineering 58140 Sivas/Turkey





This research evaluated removal of nitrates from drinking waters in a slow sand filter (SSF). Batch experiments were performed to determine optimum carbon to NO3-N (C/N) ratio for the filtration experiments. The filter column was filled with filter sand of an effective diameter of 0.5 mm and uniformity coefficient of 1.23. The filter was operated at filtration rates of between 0.02 to 0.120 m/h and 0.01 to 0.25 m/h with concentrations of 22.6 and 45.2 mg NO3-N/l, respectively, and effluent samples of the SSF were taken at 6 depths of 10, 15, 20, 40, 60, 80 cm, and the bottom. Optimum C/N ratio was found to be 1.5 when using ethanol in batch tests when the removal efficiencies of NO3-N and C were higher than 90%. Although increasing filtration rates decreased NO3-N removal, effluent NO3-N concentration at the effluent port of the SSF was lower than the limit value. Most of the NO3-N removal was carried out at the upper layer of (10 cm) the filter bed. Concentration of NO3-N, NO2-N, and C were not detected at the 60 cm depth of the SSF through the study for the inlet concentrations of 22.6 mg NO3-N/ As expected, increasing influent NO3-N concentration to 45.2 mg/ increased NO3-N, NO2-N, and C concentrations in the effluent water. The SSF process was unable to provide NO3-N removal rate of more than 228 g N/m3·d (0.2 m/h flow rate, 217g N/m2·d of surface loading rate). The NO3-N removal efficiency dropped slightly from 96 to 95% when the loading rate increased from 228 to 285 g/m3·d, but the effluent water contained higher concentrations of NO2-N (8.4 mg/) than the standard value. The results of the SSF experiment demonstrated that averaged nitrogen conversion to volatile solids was about 0.77 mg VS/mg NO3-N.

Keywords: biodenitrification, slow sand filtration, drinking water

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Received 21 July 2006;
Accepted in revised form 11 November 2007.

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