The nitrogen removal capacity of a suspended culture system treating mature land fill leachate was investigated. Leachate containing high ammonium levels of 300-900 mg N/L was nitrified in a bench scale sequencing batch reactor. Leachate from four different landfills was treated over a two year period for the removal of nitrogen. In this time, a highly specific nitrifying culture was attained that delivered exceptionally high rates of ammonia removal. No sludge was wasted from the system to increase the throughput and up to 13 g/L of MLSS was obtained. Settleability of the purely nitrifying biomass was excellent with SVI less than 40 mL/g, even at the high sludge concentrations. Nitrification rates up to 246 mg N/(L h) (5.91 g N/(L d)) and specific nitrification rates of 36 mg N/(gVSS h) (880 mg N/(gVSS d)) were obtained. The loading to the system at this time allowed complete nitrification of the leachate with a hydraulic retention time of only 5 hours. Following these successful treatability studies, a full-scale plant was designed and built at one of the landfills investigated.

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