Introduction to Nitrogen Removal (WWETT Show 2023)

March 23, 2023

While nitrogen is an essential nutrient for living organisms, too much nitrogen in the environment can impact environmental and public health.  When nitrogen leaches into water supplies, especially ground water, nitrate-nitrogen can lead to methemoglobinemia.  This is a condition where the blood is unable to carry oxygen properly and the term 'blue baby syndrome' is often used to describe children affected.  In water environments, excess nitrogen leads to excess algal growth with die-off resulting in low dissolved oxygen levels in surface waters.

The nitrogen cycle is complex and the form of nitrogen changes as it moves through plants, animals, and the environment.  Understanding the factors that influence changes in the nitrogen form, allow us to develop treatment systems that capitalize on those natural processes to optimize the removal of nitrogen to the atmosphere. 

The nitrogen cycle and the environmental conditions that go with each phase will be presented.  Various wastewater treatment processes will be explained that capitalize on the biological reduction of nitrogen.  Key control points such as aeration and alkalinity will be examined.

Learning Objectives:

1.  Discuss the fundamentals of the nitrogen cycle and the importance of nitrogen in the environment

2.  Explain the difference between nitrification and denitrification

3.  Describe at least two types of wastewater treatment systems that are used for biological nitrogen reduction

4.  Recognize key troubleshooting options for a wastewater treatment system using biological nitrogen reduction

Speaker: Allison Blodig, Wastewater Treatment System Specialist at Infiltrator Water Technologies

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