Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 12, Issue 3–5, pp 331–339 | Cite as

High rate algal pond operating strategies for urban wastewater nitrogen removal

  • J. García
  • R. Mujeriego
  • M. Hernández-Mariné


Two experimental high rate algal ponds (HRAPs) (1.5m2, 570 L per unit), each with a secondaryclarifier for algal biomass separation (0.025 m2,without recirculation), were fed with urban wastewaterfor a one-year period (June 1993 to July 1994). TheHRAPs were installed on the roof of the Department ofHydraulic, Coastal and Environmental Engineering ofthe Technical University of Catalonia, Barcelona,Spain (lat. 41° 24′ 42″ N; long. 2° 7′42″ E). Nitrogen removal efficiency and changes intotal nitrogen, total organic nitrogen,NH4+-N, and oxidized nitrogen underdifferent hydraulic retention times (HRTs) werecompared. HRAP A was always operated at a higherHRT than HRAP B. Both HRAPs were subjected to thesame environmental conditions of solar radiation, airtemperature and influent water quality. Grab samplesof influent, effluent of the HRAP (mixed liquor) andfinal effluent from the clarifiers were taken once aweek. The annual average nitrogen removal was 73% forHRAP A, and 57% for HRAP B. Higher removal in HRAP Awas due to a lower inorganic nitrogen concentration inits effluent. Significant differences (p> 0.05) inthe relative proportions of nitrogen forms between thetwo HRAPs were observed only in autumn and winter.This was mainly because HRAP B did not achieve a highlevel of NH4+-N removal by stripping andalgal uptake, as observed in HRAP A. NH4+-Nstripping was the most important mechanism fornitrogen removal (mean efficiency of 47% and 32% inHRAP A and B, respectively) followed by algal uptake,and subsequent algal separation in the clarifiers(mean efficiency of 26% and 25% in HRAP A and Brespectively). The conclusion of this study is thatHRT determines both the nitrogen removal efficiencyand the distribution of nitrogen forms in the effluentof a HRAP. The nitrogen removal level can becontrolled through suitable HRT operating strategies.By operating at a HRT of 4 days in spring and summer,and 10 days in autumn and winter, nitrogenconcentration in the effluent of a HRAP system can bereduced to less than 15 mg L-1 N.

algal biomass algal uptake ammonia stripping biological nutrient removal high rate algal ponds nitrogen nutrients nitrification urban wastewater treatment waste stabilisation ponds 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abeliovich A (1986) Algae in wastewater oxidation ponds. In Richmond A (ed.) Handbook of Microalgal Mass Culture. CRC Press, Boca Ratón: 331-338.Google Scholar
  2. APHA-AWWA-WEF (1995) Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater. 19th edition. American Public Health Association. Washington DC.Google Scholar
  3. Crites R, Tchobanoglous G (1998) Small and Decentralized Wastewater Management Systems. McGraw-Hill, Boston, 1084 pp.Google Scholar
  4. El Halouani H, Picot B, Casellas C, Pena G, Bontoux J (1993) Elimination de l'azote et du phosphore dans un lagunage à haut rendement. Revue des Sciences de l'Eau 6: 47-61.Google Scholar
  5. Ganapati S, Amin P (1972) Studies on algal-bacterial symbiosis in low cost waste treatment systems. In Desikachary TV (ed.) Taxonomy and Biology of Blue-green Algae. University of Madras, Madras: 483-493.Google Scholar
  6. García J, Mujeriego R (2000) Appropriate wastewater treatment for small rural communities in the Mediterranean region. Water Policy.Google Scholar
  7. García J, Mujeriego R, Hernández-Mariné, M (1998) Tratamiento de aguas residuales urbanas mediante lagunas de alta carga: evaluación experimental. Ingeniería del Agua 5: 35-50.Google Scholar
  8. Jeffrey SW, Humprey GF (1975) New spectrophotometric equations for determining chlorophylls a, b, c1 and c2 in higher plants, algae and natural phytoplankton. Biochem. Physiol. Pflanzen. 167: 191-194.Google Scholar
  9. Nurdogan Y, Oswald WJ (1995) Enhanced nutrient removal in highrate ponds. Wat. Sci. Tech. 31: 33-44.Google Scholar
  10. Oswald WJ (1963) High rate pond in waste disposal. Develop. Ind. Biotechnol. 4: 112-119.Google Scholar
  11. Oswald WJ (1986) A Syllabus on Waste Pond Fundamentals. University of California, Berkeley, 187 pp.Google Scholar
  12. Oswald WJ (1988) The role of microalgae in liquid waste treatment and reclamation. In Borowitzka MA, Borowitzka LJ (eds), Micro-algal Biotechnology. Cambridge U.P., Cambridge: 255-282.Google Scholar
  13. Oswald WJ (1991) Introduction to advanced integrated wastewater ponding systems. Wat. Sci. Tech. 24: 1-7.Google Scholar
  14. Picot B, El Halouani H, Casellas C, Moersidik S, Bontoux J (1991) Nutrient removal by high rate pond system in a Mediterranean climate. Wat. Sci. Tech. 23: 1535-1541.Google Scholar
  15. Reed SC (1985) Nitrogen removal in wastewater stabilization ponds. J. Water Pollut. Control Fed. 57: 39-45.Google Scholar
  16. Shelef G, Moraine R, Oron G (1982) Nutrients removal and recovery in a two-stage high rate algal wastewater treatment system. Wat. Sci. Tech. 14: 87-100.Google Scholar
  17. Zaradojny C, Saxton S, Finger R (1973) Spectrophotometric determination of ammonia. J. Water Pollut. Control Fed. 45: 905-912.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. García
    • 1
  • R. Mujeriego
    • 1
  • M. Hernández-Mariné
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de Ingeniería Hidráulica, Marítima y Ambiental, ETS de Ingenieros de Caminos, Canales y PuertosUniversidad Politécnica de CataluñaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de Productos Naturales, Biología Vegetal y Edafología, Facultad de FarmaciaUniversidad de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

Personalised recommendations