Lab-testing, predicting, and modeling multi-stage activated carbon adsorption of organic micro-pollutants from treated wastewater

F Zietzschmann, J Altmann, C Hannemann, M Jekel
Water Research 2015 October 15, 83: 52-60
Multi-stage reuse of powdered activated carbon (PAC) is often applied in practice for a more efficient exploitation of the PAC capacity to remove organic micro-pollutants (OMP). However, the adsorption mechanisms in multi-stage PAC reuse are rarely investigated, as large-scale experiments do not allow for systematic tests. In this study, a laboratory method for the separation of PAC/water suspensions and the subsequent reuse of the PAC and the water was developed. The method was tested on wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluent in a setup with up to 7 PAC reuse stages. The tests show that the overall OMP removal from WWTP effluent can be increased when reusing PAC. The reason is that a repeated adsorption in multi-stage PAC reuse results in similar equilibrium concentrations as a single-stage adsorption. Thus, a single relationship between solid and liquid phase OMP concentrations appears valid throughout all stages. This also means that the adsorption efficiency of multi-stage PAC reuse setups can be estimated from the data of a single-stage setup. Furthermore, the overall OMP removals in multi-stage setups coincide with the overall UV254 removals, and for each respective OMP one relationship to UV254 removal is valid throughout all stages. The results were modeled by a simple modification of the equivalent background compound model (EBCM) which was also used to simulate the additional OMP removals in multi-stage setups with up to 50 reuse stages.

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