Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 191, Issue 1–4, pp 171–182 | Cite as

Nitrogen Removal, N2O Emission, and NH3 Volatilization Under Different Water Levels in a Vertical Flow Treatment System

  • Sheng Zhou
  • Hong Hou
  • Masaaki Hosomi


Two series of laboratory-scale vertical flow systems (flooded and nonflooded columns) were designed to compare nitrogen removal performance, nitrous oxide emission, and ammonia volatilization under different water levels upon treating diluted digested livestock liquid. In these systems, influent was supplied at three hydraulic loading rates (HLRs of 1.25, 2.5, and 5 cm day−1) during stage 1 and the rates were doubled during stage 2 when the water levels of nonflooded columns were elevated from zero to half the height of the soil column. After hydraulic loading rates doubled, the average removal rates of total nitrogen in flooded columns varied from 1.27 to 2.94 g−2 day−1 and those in nonflooded columns ranged from 1.23 to 3.88 g−2 day−1. The T-N removal at an HLR of 10 cm day−1 in the nonflooded column with an elevated water table level had higher efficiency than that in the flooded column, suggesting T-N removal is enhanced in the nonflooded column probably due to the improved coupled nitrification–denitrification process under the elevated water table level condition. On the other hand, there was a significant correlation (r 2 = 0.532, p < 0.001) between the N2O flux and redox potential that mainly corresponded to water levels and HLRs, suggesting anoxic or aerobic conditions stimulate N2O emission by enhancing the nitrification (nitrification–denitrification) process. In contrast, NH3 volatilization had a high flux in the anaerobic condition mainly because of flooding. Based on the experimental results, it is hypothesized a nonflooded condition with higher water table level (Eh range of −160 to +260 mV) would be suitable to reduce N2O emission and NH3 volatilization peak value by at least half while maintaining relatively efficient nitrogen removal performance.


Ammonia volatilization Digested livestock liquid Nitrification–denitrification Nitrous oxide emission Redox Wastewater treatment 



This research was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (Start-up; no. 19810003) from the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture, Japan. We would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive and critical suggestions and comments that made this paper more complete.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EngineeringTokyo University of Agriculture and TechnologyTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Department of Soil Pollution ControlChinese Research Academy of Environmental SciencesBeijingChina

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