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A Comparative Study of the Recovery of Ammonium from Clinoptilolite Exhausted with Conventional Domestic Wastewater and with Source Separated Human Urine

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The natural zeolite clinoptilolite exhausted with ammonium is proposed as an alternative fertilizer. Two different sources of exhausting clinoptilolite with ammonium, and recovery of the surface accumulated ammonium were investigated. The two sources were conventional domestic wastewater and separately collected human urine. The feed solution was contacted with clinoptilolite for transfering ammonium onto the solid phase in laboratory scale columns. Subsequently, the exhausted clinoptilolite was contacted with tap water to observe the release of ammonium into the wash water. The results have revealed that over 90% of ammonium in conventional domestic wastewater and human urine could be transferred from the liquid phase onto the solid phase. High levels of recovery from surface accumulated ammonium could also be achieved, suggesting that the exhausted clinoptilolite may be used as a potential fertilizer. Surface concentrations in both cases were comparable at the level of 9.5±0.5 mg NH4 +/g clinoptilolite. Recoveries of ammonium from both sources were comparable, i.e. 8.46 – 9.07 mg NH4 +/g clinoptilolite and in all cases were over 90%, going up as high as 96%. In summary, the recovery of ammonium from exhausted clinoptilolite was high and comparable regardless of its source, indicating that the use of clinoptilolite loaded with ammonium as an alternative fertilizer is a promising suggestion.
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Keywords: Ammonium removal and recovery; ECOSAN/segregated collection of domestic wastewater; fertilizer from domestic wastewater; human urine; ion exchange with clinoptilolite; sustainability

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2011

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