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Digestate application in landfill bioreactors to remove nitrogen of old landfill leachate

Peng, Wei, Pivato, Alberto, Lavagnolo, Maria Cristina, Raga, Roberto
Waste management 2018 v.74 pp. 335-346
adsorption, anaerobic digestion, biofertilizers, bioreactors, composts, denitrification, land use, landfill leachates, landfills, nitrates, nitrogen, nutrients, renewable energy sources, waste management, wastes
Anaerobic digestion of organics is one of the most used solution to gain renewable energy from waste and the final product, the digestate, still rich in putrescible components and nutrients, is mainly considered for reutilization (in land use) as a bio-fertilizer or a compost after its treatment. Alternative approaches are recommended in situations where conventional digestate management practices are not suitable. Aim of this study was to develop an alternative option to use digestate to enhance nitrified leachate treatment through a digestate layer in a landfill bioreactor. Two identical landfill columns (Ra and Rb) filled with the same solid digestate were set and nitrified leachate was used as influent. Ra ceased after 75 day’s operation to get solid samples and calculate the C/N mass balance while Rb was operated for 132 days. Every two or three days, effluent from the columns were discarded and the columns were refilled with nitrified leachate (average N-NO3−concentration = 1,438 mg-N/L). N-NO3− removal efficiency of 94.7% and N-NO3− removal capacity of 19.2 mg N-NO3−/gTS-digestate were achieved after 75 days operation in Ra. Prolonging the operation to 132 days in Rb, N-NO3− removal efficiency and N-NO3− removal capacity were 72.5% and 33.1 mg N-NO3−/gTS-digestate, respectively. The experimental analysis of the process suggested that 85.4% of nitrate removal could be attributed to denitrification while the contribution percentage of adsorption was 14.6%. These results suggest that those solid digestates not for agricultural or land use, could be used in landfill bioreactors to remove the nitrogen from old landfill leachate.