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Drinking Water Engineering and Science An interactive open-access journal

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Drink. Water Eng. Sci., 10, 119-127, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/dwes-10-119-2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
16 Nov 2017
Use of an external organic carbon source in the removal of nitrates in bio-sand filters (BSFs)
Crispen Mutsvangwa and Evans Matope Department of Civil Engineering & Surveying, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, P.O. Box 1906, Bellville 7536, Cape Town, South Africa
Abstract. Bio-sand filters (BSFs) are point-of-use (POU) potable water filtration systems commonly used in low-income communities at household level. The principle of operation is similar to that of a slow sand filter and the major difference is that they are operated intermittently at the POU. It is one of the emerging low-cost technologies which makes use of readily and locally available construction materials but is poor in the removal of nitrates. In order to enhance the removal of nitrates through denitrification, a modified BSF with ethanol as an external carbon source at C  /  N ratios of 1.1 and 1.8 was investigated. In the absence of an external carbon source, the nitrate removal efficiency was 32 %, whilst removal efficiencies at C   /   N ratios of 1.1 and 1.8 were 44 and 53 % respectively. The inflow rate reduced significantly from an initial flow rate of 0.04 to 0.01 m3 h−1. The reduction in the inflow rate was mainly due to the growth of the biological layer on the filter media. The study showed that the use of an external carbon source like ethanol in bio-sand filtration enhances the removal of nitrates in potable water.

Citation: Mutsvangwa, C. and Matope, E.: Use of an external organic carbon source in the removal of nitrates in bio-sand filters (BSFs), Drink. Water Eng. Sci., 10, 119-127, https://doi.org/10.5194/dwes-10-119-2017, 2017.
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Short summary
Low-income countries lack the capacity to remove chemical contaminants like nitrates. Hence, an economical water filtration technology was explored, which is bio-sand filtration. In order to enhance the removal of nitrates through denitrification, a modified bio-sand filter with ethanol as an external carbon source at C / N ratios of 1.1 and 1.8 was investigated. The results of the research showed a removal rate of 53 % at a C / N ratio of 1.8.
Low-income countries lack the capacity to remove chemical contaminants like nitrates. Hence, an...
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