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Title: Studies in the behaviour of a nitrifying verical flow constructed wetland wastewater treatment system
Author: Morris, Michael
Awarding Body: University College Worcester
Current Institution: University of Worcester
Date of Award: 1999
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A novel configuration of vertical downflow constructed wetland was used to treat up to 75 m3 per day of sugar beet processing wastewaters. The 403 m2, two-stage pilot system included planted and unplanted cells of a variety of sand depths (0.15 - 0.4 m) and sand particle size distributions (d10 = 0.07 - 1.2 mm). The hydraulic regime of each bed was also manipulated. Typical beet processing wastewaters contained 235 mg BOD l-1, 45 mg NH4-N l-1, 0.03 mg PO4-P l-1, 16 mg TSS l-1, at pH 8.2 and 29 °C. Overall performance of the pilot system, with respect to BOD, NH4-N, and TSS removal, was similar to, or better than, comparable two-stage vertical flow wetland systems. In vertical flow systems, influent BOD concentrations >600 mg l-1 were coincident with reduced rates of nitrification. Mean BOD removal rate in the pilot system was 38.8 g BOD m-2 d-1, with a mean loading rate of 40.4 g BOD m-2 d-1. The first-order reaction rate for BOD removal was calculated to be 0.369 m d-1 over the whole system. High rates of oxygen transfer and efficient removal of organic solids were seen as the most important factors enhancing BOD removal. Mean NH4-N removal rate in the pilot system was 5.6 g NH4-N m-2 d-1, with a mean loading rate of 7.3 g NH4-N m-2 d-1. The temperature corrected first-order reaction rate for NH4-N removal was calculated to be 0.23 m d-1 over the whole system. Nitrification accounted for between 85% and 99% of TKN removal. Evidence is presented which supports the hypothesis that cycles of assimilation/adsorption and release of NH4-N may play an important role in nitrification mechanisms in vertical flow constructed wetlands. In bed 1, removal of BOD and NH4-N were at their most efficient in the vegetated cell with the deepest (0.21 m), coarsest (d10 = 1.2 mm) sand layer. TSS removal was highest in an unvegetated cell with shallower (0.15 m), finer (d10 = 0.56 mm) sand. In bed 2, removal of BOD, NH4-N, and TSS were all at there most efficient in the vegetated cell with the deepest (0.4 m), coarsest (d10 = 0.1 mm) sand layer. Low influent phosphate concentrations may have limited nitrification rates in the pilot system. The surface area available for biofilm attachment, and media depth, both provided good models of NH4-N removal, whilst cell surface area was more important in solids removal. Media hydraulic conductivity at the beginning of the dosing cycle was five times higher in vegetated cells than in unvegetated cells. After 12 hours of dosing, media particle size distribution became the dominant factor determining media hydraulic conductivity. High influent BOD concentration was more closely associated with cell logging than hydraulic loading, TSS concentration, or BOD or TSS loading. Growth of one provenance of Phragmites australis was limited by phosphate availability. However, populations of nitrifying bacteria were highest in samples of media and roots taken from plots containing this provenance. No correlation was demonstrated between nitrifying bacteria population and root biomass. Water stress caused by high media hydraulic conductivity and inadequate influent distribution resulted in sub-optimal conditions for reed growth in bed 1. The study concludes with details of the proposed design of a full scale system designed to treat up to 1000 m3 d-1 of beet processing effluents.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University College Worcester ; British Sugar plc
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: TC Hydraulic engineering. Ocean engineering ; QK Botany