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  • Writer's pictureIn-Pipe Technology

Exploring Biological Nutrient Removal - An Innovative Approach to Wastewater Treatment


Wastewater treatment is an essential process that ensures safe disposal of sewage and protects the environment from harmful effects. One of the most innovative approaches to this process is biological nutrient removal, which is gaining popularity worldwide due to its environmental and economic benefits.

If you're a city official looking for efficient and sustainable ways to manage wastewater, this post is for you. Read on to learn how biological nutrient removal works and why it's a game-changer for wastewater treatment.



1. What is Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR)?


BNR is a process in which microorganisms remove nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater. As the treated effluent containing these microorganisms is recycled back into the treatment process, these removed nutrients are re-cycled. Different forms of microorganisms are used in biological nutrient removal processes to carry out the different steps of nitrogen and phosphorus removal.



2. How Does BNR Work?


The biological nutrient removal process takes place in two stages: primary treatment and secondary treatment. Primary treatment involves settling the wastewater in large tanks, where solids and heavy particles sink to the bottom while oils and grease float to the top. Primary treatment alone does not remove nitrogen and phosphorus from the wastewater; therefore secondary treatment is required.


Secondary treatment is where the biological nutrient removal process begins. At this stage, the wastewater flows through a sequence of treatment tanks that contain oxygenated water, where biological nutrient removal happens. Tank 1 is anoxic, meaning no oxygen is present, and denitrifying microorganisms remove nitrogen from the effluent, converting it into nitrogen gas.


Tank 2 is oxic, which means oxygen is present, and another group of microorganisms, called nitrifying bacteria, remove nitrogen from the effluent by converting ammonia and other nitrogen compounds into nitrates.



3. Benefits of Biological Nutrient Removal


BNR has various benefits over traditional wastewater treatment;


- Environmental Benefits: biological nutrient removal reduces the amount of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus released into receiving waters. This nutrient reduction lowers the energy required for nutrient removal and also prevents eutrophication, which is the excessive growth of algae in waters that eventually leads to the depletion of oxygen in the water.


- Cost-Efficient: biological nutrient removal has lower operational and maintenance costs than traditional wastewater treatment systems. It reduces the need for chemical treatment and the cost of energy required for nutrient removal.


- Space Efficient: biological nutrient removal has a smaller footprint, making it suitable for sustained wastewater treatment in urban areas with limited space.



4. Challenges of Biological Nutrient Removal


One significant challenge of BNR is ensuring stable performance due to the sensitivity and complexity of the biological system. Disruptions such as shock loads, changes in pH levels, and temperature can reduce the efficiency of the biological nutrient removal system.


Close monitoring and control of the biological system can mitigate these challenges. Additionally, the design and complexity of the biological nutrient removal system require expert operation and maintenance.



When it comes down to it, biological nutrient removal has revolutionized wastewater treatment. Its environmental, economic, and space-saving benefits make it a preferred choice for wastewater management in cities worldwide.


Ensuring proper operation, control, and maintenance of the biological system can provide stable and efficient performance. As a city official, considering biological nutrient removal for your wastewater treatment needs, you're making a sound and beneficial investment for the future.

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