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Denitrifying woodchip bioreactor and phosphorus filter pairing to minimize pollution swapping

June 7, 2017

Pairing denitrifying woodchip bioreactors and phosphorus-sorbing filters provides a unique, engineered approach for dual nutrient removal from waters impaired with both nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). This column study aimed to test placement of two P-filter media (acid mine drainage treatment residuals and steel slag) relative to a denitrifying system to maximize N and P removal and minimize pollution swapping under varying flow conditions (i.e., woodchip column hydraulic retention times (HRTs) of 7.2, 18, and 51 h; P-filter HRTs of 7.6–59 min). Woodchip denitrification columns were placed either upstream or downstream of P-filters filled with either medium. The configuration with woodchip denitrifying systems placed upstream of the P-filters generally provided optimized dissolved P removal efficiencies and removal rates. The P-filters placed upstream of the woodchip columns exhibited better P removal than downstream-placed P-filters only under overly long (i.e., N-limited) retention times when highly reduced effluent exited the woodchip bioreactors. The paired configurations using mine drainage residuals provided significantly greater P removal than the steel slag P-filters (e.g., 25–133 versus 8.8–48 g P removed m−3 filter media d−1, respectively), but there were no significant differences in N removal between treatments (removal rates: 8.0–18 g N removed m−3 woodchips d−1; N removal efficiencies: 18–95% across all HRTs). The range of HRTs tested here resulted in various undesirable pollution swapping by-products from the denitrifying bioreactors: nitrite production when nitrate removal was not complete and sulfate reduction, chemical oxygen demand production and decreased pH during overly long retention times. The downstream P-filter placement provided a polishing step for removal of chemical oxygen demand and nitrite.

Publication Year 2017
Title Denitrifying woodchip bioreactor and phosphorus filter pairing to minimize pollution swapping
DOI 10.1016/j.watres.2017.05.026
Authors Laura E. Christianson, Christine Lepine, Philip Sibrell, Chad J. Penn, Steven T. Summerfelt
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Water Research
Index ID 70188385
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Leetown Science Center