Optimization and upscaling of electrochemical ammonia recovery

  • 1 September, 2018
  • 7 October, 2022
  • Wageningen University, Environmental Technology
  • prof. dr CJN Buisman
  • dr ir A ter Heijnedr P Kuntke

Due to an increase of the world population, more and more fertilizers are used to achieve the necessary crop production. The production of ammonia by the Haber-Bosch process is energy intensive. Moreover, it is necessary to remove the excess of reactive nitrogen from waterbodies to prevent environmental problems such as eutrophication. The current removal processes (nitrification/denitrification or ANAMMOX) are also energy intensive and increase the emission of NO2 to the atmosphere. Therefore, it has become crucial to develop new technologies, more efficient and sustainable, capable of reutilize the reactive nitrogen present in the environment at a low energy consumption. Electrochemical systems are capable of both remove and recover nitrogen from streams with different ammonia concentrations. These systems use the electric current derived from redox reactions at the electrodes to transport TAN (ammonia and ammonium), through a cation exchange membrane. Thereby ammonium is separated from the wastewater and concentrated for further recovery. The increase of the pH in the concentrated compartment, deprotonates ammonium ions into volatile ammonia allowing the use of a Transmembrane ChemiSorption module to recover this ammonia. The similarity with an electrodialysis process allows the scalability by increasing the design dimensions or/and by stacking. This project aims to improve and upscale electrochemical systems for TAN recovery. Suitable wastewater streams will be identified and assessed. Different performance parameters (Load Ratio and current density) will be investigated and effects on energy demand and recovery will be determined. The results will provide further insights and demonstrate the TAN recovery under realistic conditions.


Mariana Rodrigues

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