What is Ammonia in Wastewater?

Ammonia is a chemical compound commonly found in domestic wastewater, from household or communal sources. The source of this wastewater can come from various places such as kitchen sinks, toilets, urinals, showers, and other related daily activities at home. Chemically, ammonia is known by the formula NH3 and consists of one nitrogen atom and three hydrogen atoms. 

NH3 Ammonia
Picture Source : Ion Science of Ammonia


Ammonia in domestic wastewater is produced from the remnants of proteins and nutrients generated by human bodies. After food and beverages are digested by enzymes, ammonia is formed as a metabolic product. Domestic wastewater contains ammonia as one of its main components due to this process. The concentration of ammonia in domestic wastewater varies normally but can reach up to 50 mg/L or more.

In some amounts, ammonia in wastewater is essential for bacteria as a nutrient source to support their growth in wastewater treatment. However, excess ammonia in wastewater can negatively impact the environment, particularly aquatic ecosystems.

Ammonia in domestic wastewater has significant negative effects on the environment, especially water ecosystems. Most ammonia reacts with water molecules to produce ammonium ions (NH4+). However, the percentage of ammonia that does not react and remains in gaseous form (NH3) increases when pH rises and temperatures are high.


Characteristics of Ammonia in Wastewater:

  1. Ammonia (NH3) is a chemical compound in gaseous state and smell.
  2. Corrosive and causes rust that can reduce the strength of iron pipes in sewage systems and equipment made of iron.
  3. molecular weight is 17.0306 g/mol. The atomic weights of Nitrogen (N) are 14.01 g/mol and those of Hydrogen (H) are 1.01 g/mol. 
  4. Soluble in Water. In normal conditions, 1 liter of water can dissolve 1180 liters of ammonia. 
  5. Liquefied ammonia behaves easily in liquid state.

The Negative Impact of Ammonia on Wastewater

High concentrations of ammonia in domestic wastewater can cause irritation to the skin, eyes, and nervous system, as well as respiratory problems in humans, which can lead to death. Ammonia is also corrosive and can cause rust, which can reduce the strength of iron pipes in wastewater piping systems and equipment made of iron without anti-corrosive coating. Therefore, ammonia must be removed from domestic wastewater before being discharged into the environment according to the legal provisions of the maximum limit.


The maximum Ammonia content in domestic wastewater discharge set by the government through Minister of Environment and Forestry Regulation Number 68 of 2016 is 10 mg/l at a maximum flow rate of 100 Liters/person/day

Parameter Baku Mutu Air Limbah Domestik


Methods to Reduce Ammonia Levels in Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTPs)

Methods to reduce or eliminate Ammonia in wastewater can be done using several methods, including:

  1. It can be done through chemical processes using the redox process. However, we need to consider the potential increase in COD and the degree of certain chemical concentrations in wastewater discharge. 
  2. Or by using biological oxidation processes, which are safer for wastewater discharge quality. 


Our Company's Products/Services include:

  1. Design and Build WWTP with technology tailored specifically based on customer needs. 
  2.  Assessment/Evaluation and Technical Documentation to ensure that the designed WWTP meets the criteria and wastewater discharge quality standards in effect, providing benefits as part of the permitting documentation. 
  3. Upgrade/Optimization/Retrofitting/Repair to increase WWTP treatment capacity and improve the quality of treated water. 
  4. Maintenance WWTP to keep production optimal according to wastewater quality requirement and extend the life of WWTP's equipment. 
  5. Proper quality equipment/machinery products to ensure that each equipment/machine we supply can operate optimally according to its function.


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