Elevated levels of nutrients in agroindustry wastewaters, and higher reliance on chlorination pose health threats due to formation of chlorinated organics as well as increased chlorination costs. Removals of ammonium and nitrate compounds were studied using activated carbon from palm shells, as adsorbent and support media. Experiments were carried out at several loadings, F:M from 0.31 to 0.58, and hydraulic residence times (HRT) of 24 h, 12 h and 8 h. Results show that the wastewater treatment process achieved removals of over 90% for COD and 62% for Total-N. Studies on removals from river water were carried out in sequencing batch reactor (SBR) and activated carbon biofilm (ACB) reactor. Removals achieved by the SBR adsorption-biodegradation combination were 67.0% for COD, 58.8% for NH3-N and 25.5% for NO3-N while for adsorption alone the removals were only 37.0% for COD, 35.2% for NH3-N and 13.8% for NO3-N. In the ACB reactor, at HRT of 1.5 to 6 h, removals ranged from 12.5 to 100% for COD, 16.7 to 100% for NO3-N and 13.5 to 100% for NH3-N. Significant decrease in removals was shown at lower HRT. The studies have shown that substantial removals of COD, NO3-N and NH3-N from both wastewater and river water may be achieved via adsorption-biodegradation by biofilm on activated carbon processes.

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