Return side streams from anaerobic digesters and dewatering facilities at wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) contribute a significant proportion of the total nitrogen load on a mainstream process. Similarly, significant phosphate loads are also recirculated in biological nutrient removal (BNR) wastewater treatment plants. Ion exchange using a new material, known by the name MesoLite, shows strong potential for the removal of ammonia from these side streams and an opportunity to concurrently reduce phosphate levels. A pilot plant was designed and operated for several months on an ammonia rich centrate from a dewatering centrifuge at the Oxley Creek WWTP, Brisbane, Australia. The system operated with a detention time in the order of one hour and was operated for between 12 and 24 hours prior to regeneration with a sodium rich solution. The same pilot plant was used to demonstrate removal of phosphate from an abattoir wastewater stream at similar flow rates. Using MesoLite materials, >90% reduction of ammonia was achieved in the centrate side stream. A full-scale process would reduce the total nitrogen load at the Oxley Creek WWTP by at least 18%. This reduction in nitrogen load consequently improves the TKN/COD ratio of the influent and enhances the nitrogen removal performance of the biological nutrient removal process.

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