Treatment of Nitrate-contaminated Drinking Water Using Autotrophic Denitrification in a Hydrogenised Biofilter

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Ph.D. Student of Civil and Environmental Eng., Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran

2 Prof. of Civil and Environmental Eng., Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran

3 Assist. Prof. of Civil and Environmental Eng., Azad University, Ahar Branch

4 Assist. Prof. of Civil and Environmental Eng., Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran


In this research, a system was designed and constructed that included an efficient, economically feasible method for adjustable, in-situ generation of hydrogen and carbon dioxide coupled with a packed bed bioreactor. The system was subsequently tested for its ability to remove nitrate from drinking water. The major objective was to develop an economical technology with a high selectivity for nitrate ions but causing minimum changes in other drinking water quality parameters. Hydrogen (as the electron donor) and carbon dioxide (as the carbon source for autotrophic denitrifier bacteria) were generated in a cost-effective way by applying a very low DC voltage (5-10 volts) in an electrochemical reactor using methanol electrolysis. The gases were injected into a denitrification bioreactor inoculated with denitrifier bacteria which are naturally present in water. Finally, the system was put to a pilot operation to remove nitrate from a nitrate-contaminated well (a typical contamination range of 120 mg/L as NO3-) in Tehran aquifer for a period of 160 days. The results showed that the system was capable of achieving a nitrate removal efficiency of 95% with an HRT of 2-5 hr while its power consumption was minimal and only required the two harmless gases, hydrogen and carbon dioxide, to be injected without any chemical additions.


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