Effect of exogenous carbon sources on removal of inorganic nutrient by the nitrification-denitrification process

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journal

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1229-1236
Journal / PublicationWater Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1992


A bench scale study was undertaken to examine the effects of exogenous carbon substrates on the removal of inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus by a simple nitrification-denitrification process. Each plastic tank reactor was subjected to a 7-h aeration followed by a 5-h anoxic stage. Methanol, glucose and sodium acetate, at the concentrations equivalent to theoretical COD values of 100 and 200 mg O2 l-1 were used as external carbon sources and were added to the reactors prior to the anoxic stage. Effects of these additions on biological phosphate release were also investigated. The results showed that 94% of NH4 +-N was removed at the end of the aeration period. During the anoxic stage, reduction of nitrate to nitrogen gas was recorded and the denitrification process was significantly enhanced by the addition of organic carbon substrates. At the end of the anoxic stage, over 90% reduction was achieved in the tanks with exogenous carbon substrates while only 47% of NO3 --N was removed in the control reactors. Among the three substrates, sodium acetate was the most efficient and effective source, followed by methanol and glucose. Addition of sodium acetate not only increased the amount of nitrate reduction but also enhanced the rate of N removal especially when a high dosage of sodium acetate was used. With respect to phosphorus removal, 88% ortho-P was removed after the aerobic stage. Throughout the anoxic stage, P concentration was maintained at about 2 mg l-1 in both control and methanol treated reactors. However, significant increase in effluent P content was recorded in both sodium acetate and glucose treatments indicating that phosphorus was released from the bacterial cells during the anoxic stage. The amount of P-release in these two treatments was related to the concentrations of the carbon substrate used. © 1992.

Research Area(s)

  • glucose, methanol, nitrification-denitrification process, nitrogen and phosphorus removal, sodium acetate, wastewater