Use of cotton as a carbon source for denitrification in biofilters for groundwater remediation

Amir Aloni, Asher Brenner

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    21 Scopus citations


    This study is part of a comprehensive research aimed at the development and application of the "Water Sensitive Cities" idea in Israel. This is a sustainable concept, incorporating among others the harvesting, treatment, and reuse of storm-water. The use of engineered biofiltration systems for the harvesting and treatment of storm-water in Israel is complicated due to the prolonged dry climate period, spanning 7-8 months of the year. Therefore, the tactic suggested is to use a hybrid biofiltration system for both storm-water harvesting/polishing during winter, and for remediation of nitrate-contaminated groundwater during summer. This paper focuses on the summer design (denitrification) configuration. In preliminary experiments, it was found that crude cotton could serve as an effective carbon source for denitrification. Further results are reported herein regarding the design and operation of biofilter columns applied for the treatment of synthetic mixtures simulating nitrate-contaminated groundwater. The columns were composed of crude cotton wool and polyethylene beads, which prevented the effect of cotton compression. This application was shown to enable controlled removal of nitrate to low levels, while emitting very low concentrations of total organic carbon (TOC) and nitrite. It was also concluded that a biofilter requires judicious design and operation, since complete removal of nitrogen oxides might lead to the formation of undesired compounds such as sulfides due to the development of anaerobic conditions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number714
    JournalWater (Switzerland)
    Issue number9
    StatePublished - 18 Sep 2017


    • Biofilter
    • Cotton
    • Denitrification
    • Groundwater remediation
    • Storm-water
    • Water sensitive cities

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Biochemistry
    • Geography, Planning and Development
    • Aquatic Science
    • Water Science and Technology


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