A pilot scale rotating biological contactor (RBC) was used to investigate the removal of nitrate-nitrogen from groundwater using three different carbon sources, i.e., methanol, ethanol and acetic acid. Optimum carbon sources to influent nitrate-nitrogen ratio were established by varying the influent concentration of carbon sources. The optimum ratio of methanol, ethanol and acetic acid to nitrate-nitrogen ratios were found to be 2.9, 2.35 and 4.3 respectively. The nitrate-nitrogen removal efficiency averaged 93, 91 and 98 for methanol, ethanol and acetic acid respectively at a loading rate of 76 mg/m2.h. The results of this study show that the acetic acid is the most efficient carbon source for removal of nitrate-nitrogen. Effluent nitrite-nitrogen concentration was minimum for acetic acid as compared with ethanol and methanol. The effluent contained minimum suspended solids and turbidity for methanol as a carbon source. The results of this study indicate that biological nitrate removal using a RBC is a reliable and stable system under all the three carbon sources. The denitrified water in all cases requires some post treatment to oxidise the residual carbon source and remove biomass before distribution.

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