The main objective of this research was to demonstrate that selected natural lava stones can be successfully used for low-cost aerobic biofiltration of municipal wastewater. To demonstrate the procedure a pilot filter was built using 6 mm lava stones as support material. The filter depth was 3.0 m. Provided with sampling ports at different depths analysis of the wastewater could be made for COD, TSS, ammonia and nitrates nitrogen, pH, temperature and Kjeldahl nitrogen. Backwashing was performed every 72 hours. Total and dissolved COD and TSS behaved similarly with the organic load: The highest removal rates were observed with the lowest organic load of 0.8 kgCOD/m3 d. These removal rates decreased to a minimum value at organic loading rates of 1.5 kgCOD/m3 d and then remained without noticeable changes to the highest value of 3.5 kgCOD/m3 d. The highest total and dissolved COD removal values were 81 and 84%, respectively. For TSS the best removal value was 95%. Up to 75% ammonia removal was achieved at the lowest organic load of 0.8 kgCOD/m3 d. Ammonia removal decreased to 36% with a higher organic load of 1.6 kgCOD/m3 d. The Mean Cellular Retention (MCRT) time varied from 1 to 6 days with an average of 3.2 days. This fact proves that the MCRT depends on the backwashing frequency more than of any other factor involved. The bed volume decreased in about 5% after 300 days of operation. Microscopic observations showed that the small stones were rounder after 300 days and that the volume losses were caused when the edges of the stones were cut by the abrasion caused by backwashing.

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