Thursday, December 27, 2012

Nitrogen Removal 3.0

There's a buzz in the wastewater community right now. It's not often someone discovers a whole new mechanism for treatment and it is causing quite a stir. Not since Dr James Barnard formalized biological phosphorus removal in the 1970s has there been so much excitement. The reason? Anaerobic ammonia oxidation or "Anammox". On paper, this process removes nitrogen from wastewater using less than half the energy of traditional nitrification/denitrification, no carbon addition and little sludge production. In the early part of this century several process configurations and patents have been issued that use anammox to remove nitrogen from high strength wastes, including ANAMMOX by Paques, DEMON by Cyklar-Stulz and ANITA Mox by AnoxKaldnes. These processes are proving to be robust and very successful for high ammonia concentration wastes such as the "sidestreams" from sludge treatment at domestic wastewater treatment plants. The trick now is to take these ideas and make them work on the "mainstream" where the wastewater is much weaker and the temperatures lower than sidestreams. WERF is coordinating research projects to this very end. Could 2013 be the year when we see anammox go mainstream? I'm hopeful that it is!