Three different types of internally aerated pilot scale biofilters were operated as tertiary nitrification systems. Long-term performance of the three aerated biofilters was tested under various operating conditions. The maximum volumetric nitrification rates under non NH4-limiting conditions for the three aerated biofilter systems were investigated. Based on measured temperature dependencies, an exponential relationship was established enabling the prediction of the nitrification rates at desired temperatures. Based on a temperature of 10°C, the results allow a comparison between the surface and volume specific nitrification rates in the tested biofilters as a function of the NH4 effluent concentration.

As shown by experiments, nitrification performance depends on water as well as air velocities in the filter. Higher velocities of both air and water increase the nitrification rate. However, they also increase the head loss and thus decrease the filter run time. Therefore, the optimal operating conditions depend also on the filter media and the required effluent quality.

Compared to fully O2-limiting operating conditions, nitrification performance during a period under partially NH4-limiting conditions clearly decreased in all tested biofilters.