Performance Analysis of an Ecological Wastewater Treatment System (Eco-Machine), with Emphasis on Nitrogen Transformations

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Miller, Adam T
Vermont; wastewater treatment; nitrogen performance; nitrogen; greywater; ecological design
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thesis / dissertation description
This research looked at nitrogen removal in the Aiken Center Eco-Machine at the University of Vermont. The mean (± 1 standard deviation) percent removal of the dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN = NH4-N + NH3-N + NO3-N) from the system was 51.35% (± 17.28%). The biggest changes in NH4+ and NO3- concentrations occurred in the closed aerobic tanks. There was a far larger decrease of NH4-N than the corresponding increase in NO3-N signifying that other nitrogen cycle processes were occurring in addition to nitrification. While more research needs to be conducted, it is hypothesized that denitrification and microbial assimilation made the largest contributions to the removal of DIN. The results also show that the variability in environmental conditions and inputs may have hindered the stabilization of pH, the nitrification performance, efficiency of the treatment system, and its overall suitability for greywater recycling. Looking ahead, it will be important to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the nitrogen budget by focusing on the link between microbial community dynamics and nitrogen dynamics, as well as measuring nitrogen losses to the atmosphere and to microbial sludge.