Direct comparison of ozonation and adsorption onto powdered activated carbon for micropollutant removal in advanced wastewater treatment

Johannes Altmann, Aki Sebastian Ruhl, Frederik Zietzschmann, Martin Jekel
Water Research 2014 May 15, 55: 185-93
Organic micropollutants (OMPs) may occur ubiquitously in the aquatic environment. In order to protect the ecosystem and drinking water sources from potentially toxic effects, discharges of an increasing number of OMPs are being regulated. OMP removal from wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluents as a point source is a preferred option with removal by adsorption onto powdered activated carbon (PAC) and OMP transformation to presumably harmless compounds by ozonation as the most promising techniques. In this study, effluents of four WWTPs were treated with PAC and ozone in bench-scale experiments to compare the removal efficiencies of seven relevant OMPs. Concentrations of carbamazepine and diclofenac were reduced by more than 90% with 20 mg/L PAC or 5-7 mg/L ozone (0.5 mg O3 per mg dissolved organic carbon (DOC)). Comparing typical doses for practical applications ozonation proved to be more efficient for abatement of sulfamethoxazole, while removal of benzotriazole and iomeprol was comparatively more efficient with activated carbon. While well known for ozonation, DOC-normalized doses were also applied to PAC and correlated better to relative OMP removal than volume proportional PAC addition. Furthermore, OMP removal efficiencies corresponded well with the reduction of ultraviolet light absorption at 254 nm for both treatment options.

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