Effect of hydraulic retention time and substrate availability in denitrifying bioelectrochemical systems

Denitrifying bioelectrochemical systems (BES) allow safe nitrate treatment in waters with low organic carbon content without chemical requirements and at a competitive cost. However, this technology should move towards scaling-up by improving removal rate capabilities. In this study, a novel tubular design was used to evaluate whether the hydraulic retention time and the influent nitrate concentration influence the nitrate removal rate of denitrifying BES. A nitrate consumption rate of up to 849 g N mNCC−3 d−1 was reached without accumulation of nitrites at a HRT of 28 minutes. Nitrate removal activity was evaluated under different nitrate influent concentrations and under different HRTs. Results suggested preeminence of HRT on modulating the denitrifying activity. Therefore, this study presents an innovative design for nitrate removal using denitrifying BES and it demonstrates that operation at low HRTs increases the nitrate removal rate. It suggests that an appropriate approximation of scaling-up denitrifying BES would be the implementation of compact reactors connected in series operated at low HRTs ​
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