Passive dosing of organic substrates for nitrate-removing bioreactors applied in field margins

Stefan Jansen*, Roelof Stuurman, Wim Chardon, Sheila Ball, Joachim Rozemeijer, Jan Gerritse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Denitrifying bioreactors are dependent on organic matter supply as a substrate for effective NO 3 removal. In this study, the difference in removal efficiency and side effects when using different organic matter sources and dosing strategies was tested in two field experiments. The organic matter sources tested were woodchips and ethanol. The effect of woodchips was tested using woodchip-enveloped drains. Ethanol was supplied to a flow-through reactor by passive dosing by diffusion through silicone tubing. The woodchip-enveloped drains showed a removal efficiency of 80% during the first year of application, but this rate decreased during the second and third years of application, coinciding with a decrease in dissolved organic C and an increase in redox potential. The removal efficiency was higher and remained higher over a longer period of time when the drains were installed more deeply. The flow-through reactor with ethanol could lead to a higher removal efficiency (up to 95%) at higher hydraulic retention time (HRT, 0.1 d) than the woodchip-enveloped drains (HRT = 5 d). Passive dosing of organic substrates is simple, needs little maintenance and no energy, and can be performed independent of electricity. A denitrifying bioreactor with a controlled drainage inlet and outlet is a promising setup for optimizing N removal and minimizing side effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-402
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


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