Breakpoint Chlorination as an Alternate means for Ammoia-Nitrogen removal at a Water Reclamation Plant

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Virginia Tech

Numerous wastewater treatment processes are currently available for nitrogen removal or ammonia conversion to nitrate. Those that are economically feasible rely mostly on microbiological processes, which are only effective when the microorganisms remain in a healthy state. If a biological process upset was to occur, due to a toxic shock load or cold weather, it may result in a discharge of ammonia or total nitrogen into the receiving water body. The impact of such a discharge could have deleterious effects on aquatic life or human health. The main objective of the breakpoint pilot study was to define optimum breakpoint pilot plant operating conditions which could then be applied to the design of a full scale breakpoint facility and serve as an emergency backup to biological nitrification.

A pilot study was built on site at the Upper Occoquan Sewage Authority's Regional Water Reclamation Facility in Centreville Virginia. Testing was conducted in two phases (I and II) over a two year period in order to determine the operating conditions at which the breakpoint reaction performed best. Tests were performed during Phase I to determine the optimum operating pH, Cl₂:NH₃-N dose ratio, S0₂:Cl₂ dose ratio, and the minimum detention time for completion of the breakpoint reaction. Other testing done during Phase I included several special studies; including examination of appropriate analytical methods for monitoring breakpoint reactions, and investigation of the breakpoint reaction by-product nitrogen trichloride. Phase II testing examined how varying breakpoint operating temperatures, varying influent ammonia concentrations, higher influent organic nitrogen concentrations, and higher influent nitrite concentrations influenced the performance of the breakpoint pilot operation.

Averages of data from operation at three different rapid mix pHs (7.0, 7.5, and 8.0) showed that pilot performance (i.e., ammonia oxidation) improved and the reaction was more stable at the higher operating pHs 7.5 and 8.0. Examination of dose ratios used during the study showed that the ideal operating ratios for this particular water was around 8:1 Cl₂:NH₃-N for the breakpoint reaction and 1.3:1 S0₂:Cl₂ for the dechlorination reaction. Although detention times for completion of the breakpoint reaction varied with pilot influent temperature, it generally required around 30-35 minutes to reach ammonia concentrations of < 0.2 mg/L NH₃-N at 8-12°C. Completion of the breakpoint reaction was found to be quickest at 20°C (the highest water temperature tested at the pilot).

The tests of varying influent ammonia concentrations showed that although higher influent ammonia concentrations (11.0 mg/L) resulted in faster ammonia oxidation rates initially, the pilot operated better and had the same final performance results when the influent ammonia was lowered.

Increasing the organic nitrogen concentrations (~ 1.0 mg/L) in the pilot influent resulted in a slightly higher Cl₂:NH₃-N dose ratio needed to reach breakpoint, a higher S0₂:Cl₂ dose needed to dechlorinate, and resulted in the formation of numerous disinfection byproducts. Increasing the nitrite concentration in the pilot influent increased the chlorination dose requirement.

nitrogen trichloride, ammonia, chlorine, breakpoint