Ferrate, TKN, wastewater treatment, oxidants, municipal wastewater, nutrient removal, biological treatment, nitrogen removal


This research addresses refractory forms of nitrogen that, even with advanced biological nitrification-denitrification systems are not removed completely from domestic wastewater. TKN (Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen), ammonia plus organic nitrogen, is one of the forms to measure the levels of nitrogen present in effluent wastewaters. Ferrate, a strong oxidant, was used for the treatment of these nitrogen forms with the objective of producing nitrogen compounds that can be removed by subsequent biological processes. Bench-scale experiments were performed on effluent samples taken prior to chlorination from an Orlando, FL wastewater treatment facility, using a biological nutrient removal process. The samples were treated with doses of ferrate ranging from 1 to 50 mg/L as FeO4–2 under unbuffered conditions. TKN removal as high as 70% and COD removal greater than 55% was observed. The TSS production after ferrate treatment was in a range of 12 to 200 mg/L for doses between 10 and 50 mg/L FeO4-2. After an optimum dose of ferrate was determined, three bench-scale reactors were operated under anoxic conditions for 10 to 12 days, two as duplicates containing the treated effluent and one as a control with untreated sample. Two different doses of ferrate were used as optimum dose for these experiments, 10 and 25 mg/L as FeO4-2. The purpose of these reactors was to determine the potential for biological removal of remaining nitrogen after ferrate oxidation of refractory nitrogen. Treated and raw samples were analyzed for Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen (TKN) (filtered and unfiltered), chemical oxygen demand (COD) (filtered and unfiltered), total suspended solids (TSS), nitrate (NO3-N), nitrite (NO2-N), and heterotrophic plate count (HPC). As a result, more than 70% of the soluble TKN was removed by chemical and biological oxidation for a sample treated with a dose of 25 mg/L FeO4-2, and less than 50% when treated with 10 mg/L FeO4-2. For the control samples run parallel to the ferrate treated samples, a maximum of 48% of soluble TKN and a minimum of 12% was removed. A three-log increase was observed in heterotrophic bacteria numbers for both doses during the operation of the reactors. Sodium ferrate was found to be an effective oxidant that can enhance the biodegradability of recalcitrant TKN present in municipal wastewaters. As mentioned before this research was develop using batch reactor units at bench-scale, therefore it is recommended to follow the investigation of the biodegradability of recalcitrant TKN of a ferrate treated sample under continuous flow conditions so that results can be extrapolated to a full-scale treatment facility.


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Graduation Date





Reinhart, Debra


Master of Science in Environmental Engineering (M.S.Env.E.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Degree Program

Environmental Engineering








Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)