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Solutions For Wastewater Ammonia Removal

The problem of ammonia in wastewater has become a major concern throughout the world, particularly in the United States. About half of the states in the US, including the District of Columbia, have followed the rules under the 1999 EPA water quality criteria for ammonia removal.

From plastics to explosives, ammonia makes up most of the products used in various industries. Ammonia discharged from factories or industrial facilities can leak into sewage systems known as sewage. High concentrations of ammonia are toxic to humans and animals, so sanitation engineers and the government work closely to remove ammonia from wastewater. Untreated volumes of ammonia in sewage can be dispersed into the air and affect those who have inhaled the chemical. This can also cause serious illness and skin disorders due to physical contact or consumption of ammonia.

There are various wastewater treatment technologies in use today to remove ammonia from wastewater. Here are some of the common treatments for removing ammonia waste water:

Biological nitrification

Biological filtration is a water treatment process used to convert ammonia to nitrate using aerobic autotrophic bacteria. Biological filtration uses two types of bacteria: bacteria that oxidize ammonia to nitrite (nitrosomonas) and bacteria that oxidize nitrite to nitrate (nitrobacter). Both types of autotrophic bacteria need suitable biomass, suitable environment and sufficient air to meet their biochemical oxygen demand. Nitrification requires an abundant amount of oxygen for the process to take place.

Conventional activated sludge

There are various systems used in conventional sludge treatments such as complete mixing, plug flow and step feed treatment. All these types have the same ventilation and clarification framework. Ammonia is converted through aeration basins.

This treatment is proven to be effective in treating different types of wastewater and is easier to operate than other types of treatment. However, this type of treatment requires higher capital because the aeration basins and clarifiers are made of expensive concrete materials.

Extensive ventilation

The extended treatment process is almost identical to conventional activated sludge treatment because it uses the latter’s expensive mechanical equipment, such as aeration basins, clarifiers, activated sludge return and activated sludge process waste. The only difference is that extended aeration requires more hydraulics and a steady stay during the process.

Larger hydraulic and solid housings improve the quality of the wastewater produced by this treatment. With sufficient oxygen, the extended aeration treatment can provide high levels of biological nitrification. A disadvantage of extended aeration is the cumbersome equipment required to achieve greater hydraulic and stable retention. People on a tight budget will not consider buying this equipment because it is expensive.

Membrane Bioreactor (MBR)

The membrane bioreactor has three main components: anoxic basins, preaeration basins and MBR basins. The treatment starts by filtering the raw wastewater through the fine mesh and the treated fluid is then sent to the anoxic basin and finally to the MBR basins. Membranes located in MBR basins push wastewater for disinfection prior to discharge.

Membrane bioreactor treatment is considered one of the effective solutions because it produces high-quality effluent without extensive clarification or filtration and promotes total nitrogen removal. Furthermore, if the previous two treatments are expensive, MBR is much more expensive to own and maintain. Maintenance and replacement of equipment require attention and the cost to cover the operation is a bit expensive.

There are other treatments available, but it is highly recommended that you consult an engineer before choosing a treatment.

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