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Real-Time in Situ Monitoring of Nitrogen Dynamics in Wastewater Treatment Processes using Wireless, Solid-State, and Ion-Selective Membrane Sensors

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journal contribution
posted on 26.02.2019, 00:00 by Yuankai Huang, Tianbao Wang, Zhiheng Xu, Emma Hughes, Fengyu Qian, Meredith Lee, Yingzheng Fan, Yu Lei, Christian Brückner, Baikun Li
Real-time, in situ accurate monitoring of nitrogen contaminants in wastewater over a long-term period is critical for swift feedback control, enhanced nitrogen removal efficiency, and reduced energy consumption of wastewater treatment processes. Existing nitrogen sensors suffer from high cost, low stability, and short life times, posing hurdles for their mass deployment to capture a complete picture within heterogeneous systems. Tackling this challenge, this study presents solid-state ion-selective membrane (S-ISM) nitrogen sensors for ammonium (NH4+) and nitrate (NO3) in wastewater that were coupled to a wireless data transmission gateway for real-time remote data access. Lab-scale test and continuous-flow field tests using real municipal wastewater indicated that the S-ISM nitrogen sensors possessed excellent accuracy and precision, high selectivity, and multiday stability. Importantly, autocorrections of the sensor readings on the cloud minimized temperature influences and assured accurate nitrogen concentration readings in remote-sensing applications. It was estimated that real-time, in situ monitoring using wireless S-ISM nitrogen sensors could save 25% of electric energy under normal operational conditions and reduce 22% of nitrogen discharge under shock conditions.