Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 24, Issue 22, pp 18355–18362 | Cite as

Evapotranspiration versus oxygen intrusion: which is the main force in alleviating bioclogging of vertical-flow constructed wetlands during a resting operation?

  • Guofen Hua
  • Qiuwen ChenEmail author
  • Jun Kong
  • Man Li
Research Article


Clogging is the most significant challenge limiting the application of constructed wetlands. Application of a forced resting period is a practical way to relieve clogging, particularly bioclogging. To reveal the alleviation mechanisms behind such a resting operation, evapotranspiration and oxygen flux were studied during a resting period in a laboratory vertical-flow constructed wetland model through physical simulation and numerical model analysis. In addition, the optimum theoretical resting duration was determined based on the time required for oxygen to completely fill the pores, i.e., formation of a sufficiently thick and completely dry layer. The results indicated that (1) evapotranspiration was not the key factor, but was a driving force in the alleviation of bioclogging; (2) the rate of oxygen diffusion into the pores was sufficient to oxidize and disperse the flocculant biofilm, which was essential to alleviate bioclogging. This study provides important insights into understanding how clogging/bioclogging can be alleviated in vertical-flow constructed wetlands.

Graphical abstract

Evapotranspiration versus oxygen intrusion in alleviating bioclogging in vertical flow constructed wetlands


Constructed wetland Bioclogging Resting operation Theoretical resting duration 



Vertical-flow constructed wetland


Ordinary differential equation


Extracellular polymeric substances





The authors would particularly like to thank Dr. Chenming Zhang from the University of Queensland for his kind assistance during the preparation of the paper. The authors acknowledge financial support for this study from Natural Science Foundation of China (51509070, 91547206), Chinese Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2015M571779), and Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (2015B15214). This study was also supported by the China Scholarship Council for a 1-year study at EPFL, Switzerland. The authors are grateful to Dr. Christine Watts for English corrections.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Eco-Environmental ResearchNanjing Hydraulic Research InstituteNanjingChina
  2. 2.College of Water Conservancy and Hydroelectric PowerHohai UniversityNanjingChina
  3. 3.College of Harbour, Coastal, and Offshore EngineeringHohai UniversityNanjingChina

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