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Faculty of Applied Sciences

CMT 565

Wastewater and Technology

Tittle of the experiment: Experiment 8- Ammonia-Nitrogen

Name of students 1. Amy Nabila bt Rusli (2014473722)

2. Balkis bt Hazmi (2014636182)
3. Mohammad Syazwan bin Mohd Jafri
Date of Experiment 18/3/2016
Name of Lecturer Dr. Shariff bin Che Ibrahim
Date of Submission 3/4/2016
Experiment 8: ammonia-nitrogen


Ammonia is a product of the microbiological decay of animal and plant protein. It can be
directly reused by plants to produce protein. Ammonia and nitrogen compounds are applied
directly as fertilizers. The presence of ammonia nitrogen in surface water usually indicates
domestic pollution. High concentrations of these nutrients may indicate a well construction
problem or an environmental impact in the vicinity of the water supply.

Potassium tetraiodomercurate (II), (K2[HgI4]) is the inorganic compound consisting of

potassium cations and the tetraiodomercurate(II) anion, it is mainly used as nessler’s reagent.
This pale solution becomes deeper yellow in the presence of ammonia. At higher
concentrations, a brown precipitate may form and the sensitivity as a spot test is about 0.3 µg
NH3 in 2 µL. The intensity of the colour is in direct proportional to the ammonia

2K2HgI4 + NH3 +3KOH  Hg2OINH2 + 7KI +2H2O


To determine ammonia nitrogen by using nesslerization method


Spectrophotometers (Hach DR2800), sample cells (25mL) with appropriate stoppers,

graduated cylinder (25mL), pipette (1.0mL).

Reagents/ chemicals

Mineral stabiliser, Nessler reagent, polyvinyl alcohol dispersing agent, nitrogen ammonia
voluette ampule standard (50 mg/L), nitrogen ammonia standard solution (1mg/L), distilled

For sample preparation, 1mL of sample was added in the 25mL volumetric flask and filled
with distilled water to the mark. Distilled water was added to the mark at another volumetric
flask for blank preparation. Three drops of mineral stabiliser was added to each cylinder and
inverted several times to mix it. Then three drops of polyvinyl alcohol dispersing agent was
added to each cylinder and inverted several times also. 1.0 mL of Nessler reagent was pipette
into each cylinder. The cylinder was stopper and inverted several times to mix it. The
instrument timer was used to start a one-minutes reaction period to begin. After one-minutes
reaction, 10mL of each solution was poured into the sample cell. When the timer beeps the
blank solution was place into the cell holder and ZERO the instrument. The same procedure
was repeat for sample and standard solution but READ the instrument in mg/L NH3-N.


Volume of Volume of deionized Dilution factor Result (mg/L) NH3-N

sample (mL) water used (mL) (mg/L)
1 24 25 >3.50 >87.5
1 49 50 4.75 237.5
1 99 100 2.29 229.0


NH3-N (mg/L) =NH3-N ( value from spectrophotometer) x dilution factor

NH3-N (mg/L) = 2.29 x 100

=229 mg/L

Accuracy check

NH3-N standard solution = 1000 mg/L

M1V1 = M2V2

(1000)V1 = 2 (100)

V1 = 0.2mL
Value from Spectrophotometer = 1.53 mg/L

Error for the instrument = (0.47/2.00) x 100 = 23.5%


From the experiment, we found that there are various reading of the ammonia after being
detected by spectrophotometer. The highest reading that have recorded is >3.50 mg/L (out of
range) due to high concentration ammonia in that water sample. After the water sample
diluted with 50 and 100 diluting factor the value is about at 4.75 mg/L and 2.29 mg/L
respectively. According to the typical ammonia value (0-2.5 mg/L) our data represent the
value required. Our sample in consist of high level of ammonia concentration that will harm
the aquatic animal.

The high concentration of ammonia in the water greater than 5 mg/L will cause excessive
growth of algae and other plants, leading to accelerated eutrophication or 'aging' of lakes, and
occasional loss of dissolved oxygen. Animals and humans cannot use inorganic forms of
nitrogen, so nitrate is not a nutrient for us. In most fish, ammonia is excreted by passive
diffusion of NH3 across the gills according to its partial pressure gradient (Wilson et al.
1998). Disruption of this gradient causes internal ammonia concentrations to increase,
affecting internal organs, nervous system function, and respiration. If nitrate-nitrogen exceeds
10 milligrams per liter in drinking water, it can cause a condition called methemoglobinemia
or "blue baby syndrome" in infants. In addition to prevention, drinking-water providers may
use advanced treatment techniques to remove nitrate from water. For example, Des Moines
Water Works uses advanced ion-exchange technology to remove excess nitrate and remain
below the 10 mg/L standard.


The ammonia-nitrogen concentration in the wastewater was determined by using

nesslerization method.


1. Constable M, Charlton M, Jensen F, McDonald K, Craig G, Taylor K (2003) An

ecological risk assessment of ammonia in the aquatic environment. Human and
Ecological Risk Assessment 9(2):527-548
2. Eaton AD, Clesceri LS, Rice EW, Greenberg AE, Franson MAH (Eds.) (2005)
Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater (21st edition).
American Public Health Association: Washington DC
3. Lapota D, Duckworth D, Ward J (2000) Confounding Factors in Sediment
Toxicology - Issue Papers 1-19. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, San Diego

1. Identify the source of ammonia in water and waste water?

There are several sources ammonia in water and waste water like impoundments,
Manure application, Concentrated animal feeding operations, Atmospheric sources,
Agricultural and urban runoff, Aquaculture and High plant production.
2. Are there alternative method for determining ammonia in waste water? Compare the
By using ammonia probe. A measuring probe is connected to an electronic ion meter
that measures and displays the voltage resulting from ammonia, which is then
converted to concentration using a standard curve.
The other method is Colorimeter: One or more reagents are added in timed intervals
to the sample, such that the intensity of the color produced is proportional to the
ammonia that reacts with the reagent for example nessler reagent will give yellow
color for waste water that contain of ammonia . This color absorbance then is
measured using spectrophotometer. Blanks and standards are used to generate a
standard curve from which the sample absorbance reading is converted to ammonia
3. Why do you monitor nitrogen in a wastewater treatment plant?
The high concentration of ammonia in the wastewater can cause fish kills and affect
the growth of aquatic animal such as its weight, gills condition and hemotocrit. It also
will exert the biochemical oxygen demand on receiving waters because dissolved
oxygen is consumed as bacteria and other microbes oxidize ammonia into nitrite and
nitrate. The resulting dissolved oxygen reductions can decrease species diversity.
Additionally, ammonia can lead to heavy plant growth due to its nutrient properties.
4. What are the typical ammonia values in wastewater? How does your data compare
with these values?
The typical ammonia value in wastewater is 0.00-2.5 mg/L. From the experiment we
found that the our water sample contained 2.29 mg/L ammonia.