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Total ammonia nitrogen (TAN) removal by microbial nitrification is an essential process in recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS). In order to protect the aquatic environment and fish health, it is important to be able to predict the nitrification rates in RAS’s. The aim of this study was to determine the impact of hydraulic film diffusion on the nitrification rate in a submerged biofilter. Using an experimental batch reactor setup with recirculation, active nitrifying biofilter units from a RAS were exposed to a range of hydraulic flow velocities. Corresponding nitrification rates were measured following ammonium chloride, NH4Cl, spikes and the impact of hydraulic film diffusion was quantified.

The nitrification performance of the tested biofilter could be significantly increased by increasing the hydraulic flow velocity in the filter. Area based first order nitrification rate constants ranged from 0.065 m d−1 to 0.192 m d−1 for flow velocities between 2.5 m h−1 and 40 m h−1 (18 °C). This study documents that hydraulic film diffusion may have a significant impact on the nitrification rate in fixed film biofilters with geometry and hydraulic flows corresponding to our experimental RAS biofilters. The results may thus have practical implications in relation to the design, operational strategy of RAS biofilters and how to optimize TAN removal in fixed film biofilter systems
Original languageEnglish
JournalWater Research
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)3516-3524
StatePublished - 2012
CitationsWeb of Science® Times Cited: 13
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ID: 7727906