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Innovative nitrogen removal from wastewater in slaughterhouses

The conventional nitrogen removal occurs in an aerated bioreactor, where bacteria convert ammonium into nitrite, and subsequently to nitrate. Other bacteria convert the nitrate to nitrite and then into nitrogen gas, which is removed from the wastewater. These bacteria require oxygen and organic matter. Many wastewaters contain low concentrations of organic matter compared to nitrogen. This is also the case in ‘EEC Slachthuis Mechelen’. In this case additional organic matter should be added to create optimal growth and conversion conditions for these bacteria. ‘AAQUA SA, in collaboration with Antwerp University, has developed an innovative technology that short cuts the nitrogen cycle over nitrite. In the process, the development of nitrate is prevented. Only nitrite is formed which is then converted into nitrogen gas. Compared to the conventional process, 25% less oxygen and 40% less organic material is needed. In this way operational cost decrease due to energy saving (less oxygen) and chemical saving (organic carbon). Unlike other systems that short cut nitrite, the wastewater must not be heated in this innovative nitrogen removal process.

In this project, the benefits of this technology will be demonstrated at pilot scale, and for the first time on full-scale . One of the benefits of the technology is that it can be easily implemented in existing bioreactors, so that no large investments are necessary in order to apply it on a full scale.

 Companies that have submitted this project (the project consortium):

·         ‘AAQUA’: With over 25 years experience in the sector ‘AAQUA’ distinguishes itself in adjusting and optimizing water treatment installations which is crucial to ensure a constant water quality and minimal energy consumption. ‘AAQUA’ is also strong in terms of a friendly user management means of full process automation, and by making use of remote monitoring. The wastewater purification can be continuously monitored and controlled so that its operation is optimal.

·         ‘EEC Slachthuis Mechelen’is a company specialized in the slaughtering of pigs and cattle. The company has its own water treatment of the type SBR (sequential batch reactor) which is ideal for the implementation of the proposed innovation .

The knowledge center involved in the project is the research group BIT (Biochemical Engineering) from ‘Universiteit Antwerpen’.

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