The objective of this study was to determine the composition of nitrogen (N) in the effluents of advanced N removal (ANR) wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). This study also tested two different experimental protocols for determining dissolved N recalcitrance. An analysis of 15 effluent samples from five WWTPs, showed effluent concentrations and especially effluent composition varied greatly from one system to the other, with total nitrogen (TN) ranging between 1.05 and 8.10 mg L−1. Nitrate (NO3−) accounted for between 38 ± 32% of TN, and ammonium accounted for a further 29 ± 28%. All of these samples were dominated by dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN; NO3− + NH4+), and uptake experiments indicated the DIN fraction was as expected highly bioavailable. Dissolved organic N (DON) accounted for 20 ± 11% for the total dissolved N in these effluents, and uptake experiments indicated the bioavailability of this fraction varied between 27 ± 26% depending on the WWTP assessed. These results indicate near complete DIN removal should be the primary goal of ANR treatment systems. The comparison of bioavailable nitrogen (BAN) quantification protocols showed that the dissolved nitrogen uptake bioassay approach was clearly a more reliable way to determine BAN concentrations compared to the conventional cell yield protocol. Moreover, because the nitrogen uptake experiment was much more sensitive, this protocol made it easier to detect extrinsic factors (such as biological contamination or toxicity) that could affect the accuracy of these bioassays. Based on these results, we recommend the nitrogen uptake bioassay using filtered and autoclaved samples to quantify BAN concentrations. However, for effluent samples indicating toxicity, algal bioassays will not accurately quantify BAN.
Environmental Pollution – Elsevier
Published: Oct 1, 2017
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