Modes Of Nitrogen Removal

The physical removal of nitrogen using the unit operation of stripping was discussed in a previous chapter. The present chapter concerns only the removal of nitrogen by biochemical means, as mediated by microorganisms. The technique of the unit process is to release the nitrogen in the form of the gas N2 to the atmosphere. This will first entail nitrifying the nitrogens using the species of bacteria Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter. Nitrosomonas oxidizes the ammonium ion into nitrites, deriving from this oxidation the energy it needs. Nitrobacter then oxidizes the nitrites into nitrates, also deriving from this oxidation the energy that it needs. These oxidations into nitrites and nitrates is called nitrification. Nitrification is an aerobic process.

After the nitrogen has been nitrified, the second unit process of denitrification is then applied. The denitrifying bacteria, which are actually heterotrophs, convert the nitrates into nitrogen gas, thus ridding the wastewater of nitrogen. Denitrification is an anaerobic process.

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