University of Oulu

Tero Luukkonen, Kateřina Věžníková, Emma-Tuulia Tolonen, Hanna Runtti, Juho Yliniemi, Tao Hu, Kimmo Kemppainen & Ulla Lassi (2018) Removal of ammonium from municipal wastewater with powdered and granulated metakaolin geopolymer, Environmental Technology, 39:4, 414-423, DOI: 10.1080/09593330.2017.1301572

Removal of ammonium from municipal wastewater with powdered and granulated metakaolin geopolymer

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Author: Luukkonen, Tero1; Věžníková, Kateřina2; Tolonen, Emma-Tuulia1,3;
Organizations: 1Kajaani University of Applied Sciences, Kajaani, Finland
2Faculty of Chemistry, Brno University of Technology, Purkyňova Brno, Czech Republic
3Research Unit of Sustainable Chemistry, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
4Fibre and Particle Engineering Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
5Unit of Applied Chemistry, University of Jyvaskyla, Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius, Kokkola, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Informa, 2017
Publish Date: 2018-03-16


Ammonium (NH₄⁺) removal from municipal wastewater poses challenges with the commonly used biological processes. Especially at low wastewater temperatures, the process is frequently ineffective and difficult to control. One alternative is to use ion-exchange. In the present study, a novel NH4+ ion-exchanger, metakaolin geopolymer (MK-GP), was prepared, characterised, and tested. Batch experiments with powdered MK-GP indicated that the maximum exchange capacities were 31.79, 28.77, and 17.75 mg/g in synthetic, screened, and pre-sedimented municipal wastewater, respectively, according to the Sips isotherm (R² ≥ 0.91). Kinetics followed the pseudo-second-order rate equation in all cases (kp₂ = 0.04–0.24 g mg⁻¹ min⁻¹, R² ≥ 0.97) and the equilibrium was reached within 30–90 min. Granulated MK-GP proved to be suitable for a continuous column mode use. Granules were high-strength, porous at the surface and could be regenerated multiple times with NaCl/NaOH. A bench-scale pilot test further confirmed the feasibility of granulated MK-GP in practical conditions at a municipal wastewater treatment plant: consistently <4 mg/L NH₄⁺ could be reached even though wastewater had low temperature (approx. 10°C). The results indicate that powdered or granulated MK-GP might have practical potential for removal and possible recovery of NH₄⁺ from municipal wastewaters. The simple and low-energy preparation method for MK-GP further increases the significance of the results.

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Series: Environmental technology
ISSN: 0959-3330
ISSN-E: 1479-487X
ISSN-L: 0959-3330
Volume: 39
Issue: 4
Pages: 414 - 423
DOI: 10.1080/09593330.2017.1301572
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 116 Chemical sciences
Copyright information: © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Environmental Technology on 01/03/2017, available online: