Denitrifying woodchip bioreactors are a practical nitrogen (N) mitigation technology but evaluating the potential for bioreactor phosphorus (P) removal is highly relevant given that (1) agricultural runoff often contains N and P, (2) very low P concentrations cause eutrophication, and (3) there are few options for removing dissolved P once it is in runoff. A series of batch tests evaluated P removal by woodchips that naturally contained a range of metals known to sorb P and then three design and environmental factors (water matrix, particle size, initial dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP) concentration). Woodchips with the highest aluminum and iron content provided the most dissolved P removal (13±2.5 mg DRP removed/kg woodchip). However, poplar woodchips, which had low metals content, provided the second highest removal (12±0.4 mg/kg) when they were tested with P-dosed river water which had a relatively complex water matrix. Chemical P sorption due to woodchip elements may be possible, but it is likely one of a variety of P removal mechanisms in real-world bioreactor settings. Scaling the results indicated bioreactors could remove 0.40 to 13 g DRP/ha. Woodchip bioreactor dissolved P removal will likely be small in magnitude, but any such contribution is an added-value benefit of this denitrifying technology.
- Batch test
- Dissolved phosphorus
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis