Loughborough University
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Improvements to the performance of trickling filters by inclusion of alternative surface-active media

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posted on 2018-11-15, 09:50 authored by Yihuan Deng
Water pollution has become a global issue with impacts in all countries but particularly those undergoing rapid urbanisation such as China. The review for this thesis established that in 2015 China had 3,910 urban treatment plants with daily treatment capacity of 167million cubic metres. This treatment capacity was able to serve more than 90% of the population in urban regions. Compared to the previous 20 years, these treatment facilities represented a major improvement. However, the thesis uses recent annual environmental reports to show that this level of treatment is still not enough to avoid serious water pollution, more than 30% of Chinese rivers were classified as polluted. The main reason for this it is suggested is that most of treatment infrastructure is for urban areas and the rural areas still lack even basic treatment and rural communities represents about half the total Chinese population. The statistics reported in Chapter 2.1 indicates only 25.3% of towns and 11% of villages are connected to treatment facilities. It was concluded that this lower treatment rate was the major factor impacting on the water environment. Therefore, it is important to improve treatment infrastructure in China remote areas. The literature suggested that trickling filter (TF) technology had advantages as wastewater treatment in this type of situation namely Chinese rural areas. This thesis therefore reports on research to upgrade the TF basic processes to remove newly prioritized nutrient pollutants using novel, sustainable and easily available local media, these were; zeolite, maifan stone, recycled concrete aggregate (RCA), brick, blast furnace slag and dolomite. The media were screened using simple absorption tests first focussing on P removal and then a short-listed group tested under dynamic pilot scale. Further static experiments were carried out on this group to understand the mechanisms involved. The pilot tests used the selected concrete and brick. The best performers against traditional media controls and the results showed pollutant removal (COD, TSS, Turbidity, TOC and N) in line with previous models. The media, except concrete, however released phosphorus. This was further confirmed by batch tests with different operating conditions which found the media released P when the initial P concentration was below 10mg/l or above 15mg/l. Concrete was not affected and continued to adsorb P under all conditions (Chapter 4). It was recommended that tests using crushed concrete for tertiary treatment be carried out. Concrete was further studies by isotherm models the best fit was the Langmuir equation with a maximum adsorption of 6.88mg/g. The mechanism of adsorption was ionic attraction determined by kinetic study and thermodynamic models. The adsorption capacity was compared with other literature, and the results from this study suggested a larger size of crushed concrete (2-5mm) could be used for P removal as effectively as smaller sizes. In order to determine the phase of the P adsorbed, sequential extractions were carried out. The results confirmed labile or easily removed P (LBP) dominated (44%) followed by refractory or occluded P (O-P), Ca-P, Mg-P and Al-P. The literature, suggested LBP would be easily available to plants and the RCA could be reused for plant nutrient supply. Different grades of RCA in terms of their original water to cement ratio (W/C) were also tested for P removal. The study showed high W/C ratio removed more P due to the greater porosity and larger pore sizes than the lower W/C ratio.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering


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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.