Removal of excess nutrients by Australian zeolite during anaerobic digestion of swine manure

D. Thushari N Wijesinghe, Kithsiri B. Dassanayake, Peter Scales, Sven G. Sommer, Deli Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The objective of this study was to investigate the feasibility of using natural and NaCl-treated Australian zeolites to simultaneously remove excess nutrients from anaerobically digested swine manure. Ion adsorption and desorption properties of Australian zeolite during the anaerobic digestion of swine manure were investigated. Two experiments were conducted: the first was an adsorption experiment with multi-component solutions that corresponded with the ionic composition of swine manure digestates. The second experiment determined the effects of zeolite dose rates during anaerobic digestion of swine manure on the removal of N, P and K from solution. Adsorption isotherms confirmed selectivity for K + over NH 4 + by Australian natural and sodium zeolites. Therefore, NH 4 + removal was considerably reduced when there was simultaneous K + uptake. Natural zeolite desorbed more Ca 2+ during K + and NH 4 + adsorption than sodium zeolite. The ion exchange reaction was independent of the presence of P. P removal was very dependent on the pH of the medium. Natural Australian zeolite was shown to be a potential sorbent for the removal of NH 4 +, K + and P during the anaerobic digestion of swine manure. However, the application of high concentrations of zeolite at higher pH values (> 7.5) might not be appropriate for anaerobic digestion, because zeolite desorbed more Ca 2+ ions into the solution at the higher doses of zeolite and then availability of P for microbial growth might be reduced as a result of PO 4 3− precipitation with Ca 2+ at the higher pH.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Environmental Science and Health. Part A: Toxic Hazardous Substances and Environmental Engineering
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)362-372
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Adsorption
  • ammonium
  • anaerobic digestion
  • phosphorus
  • potassium
  • zeolite
  • Anaerobiosis
  • Nitrogen/analysis
  • Potassium/analysis
  • Manure/analysis
  • Phosphorus/analysis
  • Zeolites/chemistry
  • Animals
  • Swine
  • Surface Properties
  • Australia

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