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Control of denitrification in a septage-treating artificial wetland: the dual role of particulate organic carbon

Control of denitrification in a septage-treating artificial wetland: the dual role of particulate organic carbon

Water Research 36(17): 4415-4427

We examined the factors controlling organic carbon (C) cycling and its control of nitrogen (N) removal via denitrification in an aerated artificial wetland treating highly concentrated wastewater to nutrient-removal standards. Processing of organic material by the septage-treating wetland affected the biological reactivity (half-life, or t1/2) of organic C pools through microbial degradation and gravity fractionation of the influent septage. Primary sedimentation fractionated the initial septage material (t1/2 = 8.4d) into recalcitrant waste solids (t1/2 = 16.7d) and highly labile supernatant (t1/2 = 5.0d), allowing this reactive fraction to be further degraded during treatment in aerobic wetland tanks until a less labile material (t1/2 = 7.3d) remained. Organic C contributions from in situ fixation by nitrifying bacteria or algae in these tanks were small, about 1% of the C degradation rate. In the aerated tanks, denitrification was correlated with particulate organic C loading rates, although the average C required (0.35 mg C L(-1)h(-1)) to support denitrification was only 12% of the total C respiration rate (2.9 mg C L(-1)h(-1)). Additions of plant litter (2.5g C L(-1)) to the aerated tanks under normal operating conditions doubled denitrification rates to 0.58 mg N L(-1)h(-1), and reduced effluent nitrate levels by half, from 12.7 to 6.4 mg N L(-1). However, C degradation within the plant litter (0.15mg C L(-1)h(-1)) was sufficient to have accounted for only 35% of the additional denitrification. Evidence from laboratory and full-scale plant litter additions as well as process monitoring indicates that the stimulation of denitrification is due to the respiration-driven formation of anaerobic microsites within particulate organic C. In this aerated highly C-loaded septage-treating wetland, anaerobic microsite, rather than C substrate availability limits denitrification.

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Accession: 010384274

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 12420945

DOI: 10.1016/s0043-1354(02)00134-3

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