The wastewater generated from the processes of recovering precious metals from industrial wastes contains high concentrations of acids and alkalis such as nitric acid and aqueous ammonia, and of salts such as sodium chloride and sodium sulfate. Biological nitrogen removal from this wastewater was attempted by using a circulating bioreactor system equipped with an anaerobic packed bed and an aerobic three-phase fluidized bed. As a result of acclimating microorganisms with change of the hydraulic residence time, this system effectively removed nitrogen from diluted wastewater (T-N: from 2,000 to 4,000 g/m3), such that the total nitrogen concentration in the effluent met the sewage discharge control criteria in Japan (240 g/m3). The removal ratio of total nitrogen was 90% to 98% and that of ammonia was 80% to 92%. In addition, the characteristic equations for biological treatment were applied to this system on the assumption that both reactions of denitrification in the anaerobic reactor and nitrification in the aerobic reactor can be approximated to a first-order reaction. This simplified approach successfully led to a new analytical method for simulating the optimum volume ratio of anaerobic reactor to aerobic reactor for minimizing the total hydraulic residence time.

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