Grup de Recerca en Ecologia Aquàtica (EcoAqua)

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Bilayer Infiltration System Combines Benefits from Both Coarse and Fine Sands Promoting Nutrient Accumulation in Sediments and Increasing Removal Rates
Bilayer Infiltration System

Infiltration systems are treatment technologies based on water percolation through porous media where biogeochemical processes take place. Grain size distribution (GSD) acts as a driver of these processes and their rates and influences nutrient accumulation in sediments.

Coarse sands inhibit anaerobic reactions such as denitrification and could constrain nutrient accumulation in sediments due to smaller specific surface area. Alternatively, fine sands provide higher nutrient accumulation but need a larger area available to treat the same volume of water; furthermore, they are more susceptible to bioclogging. Combining both sand sizes in a bilayer system would allow infiltrating a greater volume of water and the occurrence of aerobic/anaerobic processes. We studied the performance of a bilayer coarse–fine system compared to a monolayer fine one—by triplicate—in an outdoor infiltration experiment to close the C–N–P cycles simultaneously in terms of mass balances. Our results confirm that the bilayer coarse–fine GSD promotes nutrient removal by physical adsorption and biological assimilation in sediments, and further it enhances biogeochemical process rates (2-fold higher than the monolayer system). Overall, the bilayer coarse–fine system allows treating a larger volume of water per surface unit achieving similar removal efficiencies as the fine system.

Perujo, N., Romaní, A. & Sanchez-Vila, X. 2018. Bilayer infiltration system combines benefits from both coarse and fine sands promoting nutrient accumulation in sediments and increasing removal rates. Environmental Science & Technology 52: 5734–5743.