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Nitrogen removal in response to plants harvesting in two kinds of enhanced hydroponic root mats treating secondary effluent

Sun, Shanshan, Gao, Lei, He, Shengbing, Huang, Jungchen, Zhou, Weili
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.670 pp. 200-209
ammonium nitrogen, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, harvesting, hydroponics, methane, nitrate nitrogen, nitrogen, nitrous oxide, shoots, sustainable technology, temperature, wastewater, wilting
Hydroponic root mats (HRMs) are a green technology for various wastewaters purification. However, plants wilting will inevitably reduce the purification efficiency of HRMs. Harvesting as an important way of plant management for a better understanding of sustainability of HRMs has always been highly controversial. The goal of this study was to investigate the impacts and sustainability of harvesting on nitrogen removal and greenhouse gases (CH4, N2O) emissions of the two kinds of enhanced hydroponic root mats: autotrophic hydroponic root mat (AHRM) and heterotrophic hydroponic root mat (HHRM) for treating secondary effluent. The results showed that harvesting temporarily decreased nitrogen removal efficiency of the two systems, and removal efficiency recovered quickly because of the existence of external electron donors. The effects of harvesting are ordered as: HHRM > AHRM, NO3−-N > NH4+-N. Increasing C/N, S/N would reduce the impact of temperature on harvesting systems. Harvesting also increased the emission of greenhouse gases, and increasing C/N(=6), S/N(=1.1) could significantly reduce greenhouse gases emission of the harvesting systems at low temperature. In addition, composition analysis of the shoots of the harvested plants was also conducted, and the results showed that N contents of growing shoots were significantly higher than that of withered shoots. In order to make the hydroponic root mats sustainable, harvesting before the plants wilt is more effective in removing nitrogen from the system permanently and maintain a sustainable system.