Source of Ammonia
Ammonia (NH3) gas, usually expressed as Nitrogen, is extremely soluble in water. It is the natural product of decay of organic nitrogen compounds. Ammonia finds its way to surface supplies from the runoff in agricultural areas where it is applied as fertilizer. It can also find its way to underground aquifers from animal feed lots. Ammonia is oxidized to nitrate by bacterial action. A concentration of 0.1 to 1.0 ppm is typically found in most surface water supplies, and is expressed as N. Ammonia is not usually found in well water supplies because the bacteria in the soil converts it nitrates. The concentration of Ammonia is not restricted by drinking water standards. Since Ammonia is corrosive to copper alloys it is a concern in cooling systems and in boiler feed.
Treatment of Ammonia
Ammonia can be destroyed chemically by chlorination. The initial reaction forms chloramine, and must be completely broken down before there is a chlorine residual. The chlorine will destroy organic contaminants in the waste stream before it will react with the ammonia. Ammonia can also be removed by cation exchange resin in the hydrogen form, which is the utilization of acid as a regenerant. Degasification will also remove Ammonia.