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Removal of Ammonia From (Electroplating and Other) Wastewater?


An ongoing discussion beginning back in 2005 ...


Q. Any suggestions on Ammonia removal from waste water?

Currently use dilution to reach discharge requirements in our area.

Mark Edwards
- Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

"Ammonia Removal: Physical-Chemical Wastewater Treatment"
by U.S. EPA
from Abe Books

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A. The easiest way is to boil the solution until the ammonia has all gone up the exhaust stack. But some would certainly question the environmental wholesomeness of moving the problem from one media to another :-)

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey


Q. We're aware of the boiling option, but when talking about thousands of liters, dilution is more economical and timely...any other options?

Mark Edwards [returning]
- Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


thumbs up signPlease tell us what other options you're already aware of, Mark, so we don't waste additional time suggesting things that you've already considered and dismissed :-)

Dilution is probably not a sound alternative environmentally, and is generally illegal here in the U.S., but it's hard to match the economy of simple dilution if it's legal where you are. Good luck!

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey


A. The solution is ECP (Electrolytic Catalytic Precipitation). From 1000 ppm to 0 ppm in few hours, without chemicals, without dilution, only with electric power.

Trust me.

Damian Dinu
- Constanta, ROMANIA


Q. Can anyone tell me where I can get some information on Electrocatalytic Precipitation? especially of Ammonium? Trawling through Google pages has yielded very little so far.

Mark Edwards
- Melbourne, Australia


A. ECP is a process (6,802,956 B2) assigned to Aquatic Technologies. I have read through the claims and come to the conclusion it is not too different than anodic oxidation in an EC cell. Primary claims all refer to addition of catalytic enzymes, but the results cited do not show much improvement over straight anodic oxidations I have achieved for ammonia destruction in semiconductor waste streams. Lanthanum chloride is cited as an additive, but any chloride will generate chlorine resulting in oxidation at the anode. Comments in this technology's support in this and another thread about precipitating bromides and NH3 are not well founded.

Juzer Jangbarwala
- Brea, California


A. ECP will remove ammonia completely (t0 0,00) without boiling it and without any chemicals, only by electric power. You must believe me. It is the truth. Dinu

Damian Dinu
- Constanta, ROMANIA

March 3, 2009



Bhushan Nikam
Engineer - India 

February 17, 2010

Q. I'm very much interested in the ECP process of ammonia removal from an ammonia process plant liquid effluent. Please help with greater details as we are interested in using only electric power to solve this problem. We have recorded an average of 1500 mg/l in our ponds over a production.

Paul Nwabiankem
- Port Harcourt, Rivers, Nigeria


A. There's always alkaline stripping or break point chlorination.

Gary Parham
- Denver, Colorado


A. Microorganisms can be used to convert ammonia to nitrate. A facility for doing this would likely be inexpensive to run, but would take up a lot of space.

You can also chlorinate for ammonia. To do this you would need a batch reactor fitted with an ORP/pH controller. Such a set-up could be quite compact, but the chemical costs could be substantial, especially if the waste contains other oxidizable substances. There's also the concern that toxic halogenated compounds could be generated, if the waste contains a lot of organic matter.

Lastly, there's an inorganic ion exchange material, clinoptilite, or "clino", that is selective for ammonia. This would not destroy the ammonia, but it could be used to adsorb and concentrate it. I've never used this material, so I'm not sure how it's used, exactly.

dave wichern
Dave Wichern
Consultant - The Bronx, New York


Q. It was suggested that microorganisms can be used to convert ammonia to nitrates. Could anyone suggest what such organisms might be and how the process would work? Thanks

Riaz Haque
hobbyist/ student - Chicago, Illinois

A. Hello, Riaz. I don't think Dave Wichern was suggesting specialty microorganisms tailored to this problem, but was just suggesting that conventional trickling filters or activated sludge beds, commonly used in municipal wastewater treatment, could be employed for this industrial wastewater treatment application.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

November 4, 2009

A. Ammonia from metal wastes can efficiently removed by using microorganisms as said by Dave.

Umanath Rayar
- Chennai , Tamil Nadu, India

March 31, 2010

A. Look at the MicrobeLift products for Bioremediation of the wastewater. Blueplanetcorp.com has a whole of case studies for this.

This is the bacterial additives you were inquiring about.

Gavin King
bioremediation - Cape Town, South Africa


A. Answer depends on the form of ammonia. However, this patent could be helpful to you. If it is as free ammonia, heating and air stripping (counter clockwise) in a column to recover the ammonia is a good option.

United States Patent

Horny , et al.
March 15, 1994


Process for removing ammonia from waste waters


A method for removing ammonia, or ammonia and phosphates from industrial agricultural or household effluents by causing precipitation as magnesium ammonium phosphate by means of a liquid reagent containing magnesium and phosphate ions and an acid. The effluents have more than 1 gle of ammoniacal nitrogen and the pH is adjusted to between 9 and 11 after addition of the liquid reagent.

Dr. Jacob George
- Newark, Delaware

June 9, 2008

A. I have studied, on lab scale, how to remove ammonia from wastewater. although ammonia solution was prepared with varying concentration. removal technique used was adsorption by thermally activated charcoal. parameters studied are following...

1. effect of activation temperature
2. effect of activation time on
3. effect of adsorbate concentration
4. effect of quantity of adsorbent
5. fitting of experimental results to adsorption isotherms

Results showed that the adsorption by thermally activated charcoal is beautiful technique to remove ammonia from wastewater

Shahid Rashid
- Islamabad, Pakistan

December 16, 2008

A. Ammonia or Ammonium ion, in aqueous solution can be removed by passing effluent through cation exchange resin. Resin can be regenerated with acid to get ammonium salt.

We have successfully treated effluent ammonia & cyanide. Cyanide is recovered back to system.Sulphuric acid used in regeneration is used for ammonia scrubbing & recovery of Ammonium sulphate as byproduct.

Jagdish Desai
cyanides & chemicals company - Surat, Gujarat, India

June 5, 2009

Can Jagdish Desai elaborate on the process of Cyanide and ammonia removal from the same waste stream?

Thomas Kurian
- Brantford, Ontario, Canada

December 21, 2011

Dear Mr. Jagish Desai,

After getting ammonium sulphate as byproduct, how do you separate it from rest of the effluent.

kind regards

Muzaffar Syed
- Jubail, Saudi arabia

January 31, 2009

Q. Hello,
I am not clear why ammonia is a problem in waste water treatment. Can it not kill the pathogens in waste water? I understand it has to be removed eventually but that's a separate issue.
Thanks and regards,

Aswin D
Owner - India

February 2, 2009

A. Hi, Aswin. It may depend on what field you are speaking of, Aswin. In electroplating and metal finishing, ammonia is a complexing agent which can prevent us from reaching the effluent standards for copper and other metals.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Wastewater from a Bear Sanctuary

February 10, 2009

Q. We are treating waste water from our Bear Sanctuary and have high readings of ammonia. We want to remove these before we re-use the water for bear swimming pools.
We are thinking of using the cation exchange resin. What is your opinion? Do you think it will work and are there any side-effects? Thanks.

Robert Mathieson
- Hanoi, Vietnam

February 11, 2009

A. Hi, Robert. My expertise is in wastewater treatment for electroplating rather than bear sanctuaries, so I can't help with confidence. But I'd guess that the source of the ammonia is bear urine and that it needs treatment rather than being run back into the swimming pools. I would think that biological treatment would be applicable.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

April 11, 2010

A. I have found your forum very interesting.
I would suggest to the bear park issue to employ the use of Zeolite Pellets. You can purchase a standard swimming pool sand filter, but use the zeolite pellets instead of the sand. Zeolite absorbs about 1000 times it's own weight in ammonia. Then of course when you change the zeolite I would suggest an ammonia recovery company.

To the other gentlemen with industrial ammonia issues. Yes, The answer would be the Biological introduction of ammonia consuming bacteria into the effluent. There are two types, one works quickly and effectively in cold climates and the other in moderate to hot climates.

Very earth friendly, and accepted by most environmental groups, as the bacteria actually eats the ammonia, and has a great hunger for it. You will need very large amounts of ammonia to feed it. Google "AquaFix" And you will have your answers.
Thank You

Kevin Chapman
- Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

July 12, 2011

Q. I am going to try zeolite for removing ammonia from ground water as a part of water filtration plant. Does anyone know how effective it is and how to recharge it, and the frequency of recharging?

Prajwol K Tamrakar
- Kathmandu, Nepal

June 21, 2009

Q. I work for an automotive parts manufacturer in the UK. We currently run zinc phosphate as a pretreatment but have been looking into the use of nanoceramics. Initial tests have been promising but we have encountered a problem. The waste water contains 24 mg/l of ammonia and the regulated limit where we are based is 8 mg/l. The methods that I have looked into such as air stripping seem to be catered towards ammonia content way in excess of our requirements. What would be the simplest and most cost effective way to remove concentrations of this level.

Claire Tebbit
Employee/Chemistry student - County Durham England

September 29, 2009

A. How about trying combined electro coagulation and electrochlorination...

Ganesan Balachandran
- Chennai, Tamilnadu, India

February 16, 2010

Q. Is there a chemical treatment alternative for ammonia treatment?

Curtis Blalock
- Ft Worth, Texas

February 25, 2010

Q. Good Day,

I am also looking into the use of a steam stripping column to remove ammonia from wastewater. Does anyone know where exactly I can get in depth design info and calculation outlines to assist in the design process? Also, what international standards would govern this design (British Standards, API, ISO, ANSI etc.)?

Gina Marie Gosine
- San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago

September 23, 2010

A. There are systems that use vacuum distillation and pH control to remove the ammonia as a gas. The ammonia is then converted to some other usable component such as fertilizer. It is an enclosed system with no air emissions. Works best with high concentrations of ammonia (>500 ppm) and there is no upper limit on the ammonia concentration.

John Sawyer
- Scottsdale, Arizona, USA

November 8, 2010

A. Ammonia removal is being focused on now in the wastewater treatment industry. Biological treatment consisting of manipulating Oxygen, pH and carbon sources in Activated sludge treatment yields good results in the span of 25-50 ppm; ammonia in flows of 20 to 200 MDG. typically in dewatering reject water with ammonia concentrations of 500 - 2500 ppm ammonia require more specialized processes. Biological treatments with modified activated sludge treatment called (BNR) Biological Nitrogen Removal, patented processes that abbreviate the BNR process, physical-chemical treatment (vacuum evaporative removal), and now catalytic cracking to produce electricity. Remember that molecular ammonia packs more Hydrogen than Methane! There is a ton of stuff out there. Happy Hunting.

John Sexton
- New York, New York USA

July 1, 2011

Q. Any suggestions for removal of ammoniacal nitrogen in waste water plant?

Sudhakar Ryali
- Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India

October 12, 2011

A. Dear All

More than one solution can be considered but it depends on your demand for example,

Ammonia stripping can remove all ammonia as stripped gas to the atmosphere, based on the regulation in each country you can decide to go with ammonia stripping or not.

Other types of ammonia stripping can remove all ammonia and convert it into ammonium sulfate. The problem is there is still another liquid formed containing ammonium sulfate that still needs to be treated.

Other types of strippers can burn the ammonia in a separate absorber and the final product is air-free ammonia.

Biological treatment is the best solution but if further treatments are present like RO it is not recommended to do so since BOD/COD levels will increase in wastewater stream.

Iff water water already contains organic compounds and one of the goals is to remove organics biological treatment is the best for both carbon removal (BOD/COD) and nitrogen oxidation into nitrate. The process name is nitrification.

We have to take care of what is really needed since in biological treatment you nitrogen will be present but in another form after nitrification (nitrate), if the goal is only ammonia removal it will be achieved, but if the goal is to remove nitrogen another step called DE-NITRIFICATION should be considered prior to nitrification step with recycling water between both steps.

Ion exchange can be used but it will deal with ammonium ion as cationic radical in wastewater stream but during regeneration a liquefied full of ammonia will be generated that needs to be also treated.

In one study ammonia limit required was 1 ppm meanwhile inlet ammonia level was 500 ppm.

Ion exchange was not the solution since regeneration water was a problem and the main objective was "AMMONIA TO VANISH". It was not accepted anywhere even drain lines or any spillage might happen.

The solution was catalytic ammonia stripper.


Mageed Nasr
- Egypt

March 26, 2012

Q. Hi,
Dear sir,

My Question is in manufacturing CPC-Blue (Copper phthalocynine), in the effluent Ammonia is coming out 1500 ppm and effluent is acidic 2 to 3 pH. Please tell me how to recover the ammonia from the effluent.

Sorathiya Bipin
- Surat,Gujarat,India

August 27, 2012

A. Dear Mr. Sorathiya Bipin,

This is specifically for CPC - Blue plant.
Generated acidic water contains (NH4)2SO4 and some part of urea which is responsible for Ammoniacal nitrogen in the effluent. We will isolate this acidic effluent stream which contains ammoniacal nitrogen, and use this to scrub the gases (which contain ammonia and carbon dioxide)in CPC plant specifically. This acidic filtrate will absorb ammonia and convert it to ammonium sulfate. As the pH of this filtrate goes from 2 pH towards 7 pH, we will add more sulfuric acid for faster reaction.
This will resulted in about 20% ammonium sulfate solution which we will recover as byproduct by concentrating through multiple effect evaporators (MEE). There by the effluent stream containing ammoniacal nitrogen will be dealt separately and will not go to your effluent treatment plant.
Generated Ammonium Sulphate can be sold to actual users.

Environment Engineer - Baroda, Gujarat, India

September 19, 2012

Q. I really appreciate this forum. I would want to know the best method for the removal of Ammonia from mining effluent solution to meet acceptable standards.

Richard Boakye
- Tarkwa, Ghana

September 26, 2012

Q. We are doing zero liquid discharge treatment in our tannery cetp. We have problem in RO reject water is evaporated and getting salt and condensate water. That condensate water contains more ammoniacal nitrogen. How to remove? Please tell easiest way to us.

- ranipet india

Removal of ammonia as school homework assignment

June 15, 2015

Q. Is there any way to do it in school lab? I mean the ways to remove ammonium ion.

emily chua
- Taiping, Perak, Malaysia

June 2015

thumbs up signHi Emily. Thanks for visiting finishing.com!

Instead of asking for applicability or clarification of the 42 postings preceding yours, you're starting over, and it's easy for people to assume that you're a student asking others to do your homework essay assignment for you :-)

So please take a few paragraphs for a clear exposition of your situation, and why the first suggestion of boiling doesn't sound applicable to you. Thanks!


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

How to remove ammonium nitrate from water used to scrub ship's flue gas

July 2, 2015

Q. I want to ask if the same methods can be also used for the removal of ammonium nitrate from scrubbing waste water?

I studied (so far I feel I studied much) on the removal of ammonium nitrate from scrubbing waste water but couldn't really figure out how to initiate my work, as I couldn't identify which method is the best. To clarify, the water water is from the flue gas from ships which contains excess NOx and want to separate ammonium nitrate from the waste water stream.

Shanti Thapa / manish pokhrel
- cheonan, Budadong, South-Korea

July 10, 2015

A. What are the constraints on your discharge? Need you remove ammonia, nitrate, or both?

You might consider some sort of biological treatment. There are ways of getting rid of NH3, but to the best of my knowledge, there are no good chemical methods for nitrate removal.

dave wichern
Dave Wichern
Consultant - The Bronx, New York

September 7, 2017

Q. Dear all,
There is a stream from chemical manufacturing stream which has the combination of 40% ammonium sulphate and rest is water and other organics. So the basic aim is to recover ammonium sulphate. How to do it?

barakha chetia
Environmental Engineer - Delhi, India

January 12, 2018

Q. At inlet I have free ammonia as 400 ppm, but I have an air blower system only. How much free ammonia can a simple air blower reduce?

Joel Stephen
- CHENNAI, Tamil Nadu, India

January 13, 2018

A. Ammonia can be air stripped if the pH is high, > 10. Small concentrations can also be removed using clinoptilolite for ion exchange. Biological treatment is an alternative possibility for ammonia removal.

Lyle Kirman
Consultant - Cleveland Heights, Ohio USA

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