Bioresource technology

Anaerobic-ion exchange (AN-IX) process for local-scale nitrogen recovery from wastewater.

PMID 26253916


An anaerobic-ion exchange (AN-IX) process was developed for point-of-origin recovery of nitrogen from household wastewater. The process features upflow solids-blanket anaerobic treatment (ammonification) followed by ammonium ion exchange onto natural zeolite. The AN-IX system is configured as a series of linked upflow chambers that operate passively without energy input, and is amenable to intermittent and seasonal operation. A 57L prototype was operated for over 1.8 years treating actual wastewater under field conditions. Total nitrogen removal exceeded 96% through the first 160 days of operation and effluent ammonium nitrogen remained below detection for 300 days. Ion exchange chambers exhibited sequential NH4(+)-N breakthrough over extended operation and complete media exhaustion was approached at Day 355. The ammonium capacity of zeolite was estimated as 13.5mg NH4(+)-N per gram dry weight. AN-IX is a resilient and cost effective process for local-scale nitrogen recovery and reuse, suitable for small scale and larger systems.