Complete removal and recovery of total ammonia nitrogen (TAN) from wastewaters in (bio)electrochemical systems has proven to be a challenge. The system performance depends on several factors, such as current density, TAN loading rate and pH. The interdependence among these factors is not well understood yet: insight is needed to achieve maximum ammonium recovery at minimal energy input. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of current density and TAN loading rate on the recovery efficiency and energy input of an electrochemical cell (EC). We therefore defined the load ratio, which is the ratio between the applied current and the TAN loading rate. The system consisted of an EC coupled to a membrane unit for the recovery of ammonia. Synthetic wastewater, with TAN concentration similar to urine, was used to develop a simple model to predict the system performance based on the load ratio, and urine was later used to evaluate TAN transport in a more complex wastewater. High fluxes (up to 433 gN m−2 d−1) and recovery efficiencies (up to 100%) were obtained. The simple model presented here is also suited to predict the performance of similar systems for TAN recovery, and can be used to optimize their operation.
Rodríguez Arredondo, M., Kuntke, P., Ter Heijne, A., Hamelers, H. V. M., & Buisman, C. J. N. (2017). Load ratio determines the ammonia recovery and energy input of an electrochemical system. Water Research, 111, 330-337. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2016.12.051