Submerged membrane filtration adsorption hybrid system for the removal of organic micropollutants from a water reclamation plant reverse osmosis concentrate

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Desalination, 2017, 401 pp. 134 - 141
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© 2016 Elsevier B.V. Reverse osmosis (RO) is a widespread water treatment process utilised in water reuse applications. However, the improper discharge of RO concentrate (ROC) containing organic micropollutants such as pharmaceuticals into the environment may cause potential health risks to non-target species and particularly those in aquatic environments. A study was conducted using a submerged membrane-filtration/granular activated carbon (GAC) adsorption hybrid system to remove organic micropollutants from a water treatment plant ROC by initially adding 10 g GAC /L of membrane reactor volume with 10% daily GAC replacement. The percentage of dissolved organic carbon removal varied from 60% to 80% over an operation lasting 10 days. Removal of organic micropollutants was almost complete for virtually all compounds. Of the 19 micropollutants tested, only two remained (the less hydrophobic DEET 27 ng/L and the hydrophilic sulfamethoxazole 35 ng/L) below 80% removal on day 1, while five of the most hydrophobic micropollutants were detectable in very small concentrations (< 5–10 ng/L) with > 89%–> 99% being removed. High percentages of micropollutants were removed probably because of their high hydrophobicity or they had positive or neutral charges and therefore they were electrostatically adsorbed to the negatively charged GAC.
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