Effect of aeration rate on the removal of organic matter and nitrogen and on the formation of NH3, N2O and N2 was studied for an extensive biofiltration system packed with an organic media, which was used to treat pig manure. The results show high removal of BOD5 and TSS (99 and ≥98%), independently of the four aeration rate tested (3.4–34 m3/m2·h). Aeration rate ≥4.4 m/h resulted in high ammonia stripping during start-up (≥1.0 kg NH3-N/m3 of swine manure treated), while using 3.4 m/h only 0.3 kg NH3-N/m3 were stripped. Complete nitrification was achieved after day 100 of operation, except in the biofilter with the lowest aeration rate. Simultaneous denitrification established in all the biofilters. Applying an aeration rate of 9.4 m/h up to 1.2 kg nitrogen was removed in the form of N2 for each m3 of swine manure treated. Contrary to the expectations, N2 formation and release increased with the aeration rate. This particular behaviour seems to be related to the punctual accumulation of water layers inside the biofilters, caused by the air force flowing in the opposite direction to the water flux. N2O production was quite similar in all biofilters (between 0.25–0.36 kg N2O-N/m3 of swine manure treated).

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