Short communication Biological removal of nitrogen species from metal-processing wastewater#

  • JM Kasia
  • JR Duncan
  • JE Burgess


Although several nitrification/denitrification processes are established for the removal of ammonia and nitrate from municipal and industrial wastewaters, there are few reported results on the removal of these ions from metal-processing and finishing wastewaters. Unlike municipal wastewater, there is very little organic content in metal-processing wastewaters. Sources of ammonia and nitrate in the wastewater include the use of ammonium-nitrate-fuel oil as a blasting agent, and the use of other nitrogen-containing reagents during processing. The objective of this work was to investigate a biological process for the removal of nitrogenous compounds from real metal-processing wastewater. The system comprised an aerobic continuously stirred tank reactor (CSTR) followed by an anaerobic packed column and was run using real wastewater from a metal-processing operation. The system was inoculated using humus sludge from a municipal trickling filter and a period of approximately four weeks was required for a denitrifying biofilm to develop. Results showed that ammonia removal occurred readily in the CSTR while nitrite oxidation was slower to develop. The CSTR was found to be suitable for ammonia oxidation; up to 89% ammonia removal was achieved. By employing an integrated process comprising nitrification and denitrification, high ammonia removal efficiencies can be obtained. An effluent that is low in ammonia can be obtained with this system with additional carbon introduced after the CSTR. The gravel-packed column reactor was found to be unsuitable for the removal of nitrate in the configuration used (maximum 15% removal efficiency). The critical parameters for denitrification are nitrate concentration, temperature, influent flow rate and mean cell retention time. Nitrate removal did not meet the expectations projected by previous authors\' work using synthetic wastewater.

Water SA Vol.31 (3) 2005: pp.407-412

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eISSN: 0378-4738