A biotrickling filter packed with coal slag as packing medium was continuously used for more than 9 months under high ammonia loading rates of up to 140 g/m3/h. Nitrogen mass balance and microbial community analysis were conducted to evaluate the inhibitory effects of high ammonia concentration and metabolic by-products on the rates of nitrification. Ammonia removal efficiency reached above 99% at an empty bed retention time of as low as 8 s when inlet concentrations were below 350 ppm. The maximum and critical elimination capacities of the biotrickling filter were 118 g/m3/h and 108.1 g/m3/h, respectively. Kinetics analysis results showed that less than 2.5 s was required for the biotrickling filter with pH control to treat ammonia at concentrations of up to 500 ppm in compliance with the Taiwan EPA standard (outlet NH3 < 1 ppm). Results of mass balance and microbial community analysis indicated that complete removal was mainly contributed by the activities of autotrophic ammonia oxidizing bacteria and not by physical absorption or adsorption at low loading rates. However, at high inlet loadings, ammonium became the dominant by-product due to inhibitory effects of high ammonia concentration on the bacterial community. Copyright © 2015 The Institution of Chemical Engineers.
CitationTsang, Y. F., Wang, L., & Chua, H. (2015). Effects of high ammonia loads on nitrogen mass balance and treatment performance of a biotrickling filter. Process Safety and Environmental Protection, 98, 253-260.
- Ammonia removal
- Biotrickling filter
- Inhibitory effects
- Coal slag