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Comparative assessment of ceramic media for drinking water biofiltration

Sharma, Dikshant, Taylor-Edmonds, Liz, Andrews, Robert C.
Water research 2018 v.128 pp. 1-9
acclimation, activated carbon, adenosine triphosphate, biodegradation, biofiltration, biomass, byproducts, ceramics, cost effectiveness, disinfection, dissolved organic carbon, drinking water, energy, enzyme activity, enzyme kinetics, esterases, filters, haloacetic acids, laccase, surface area, turbidity, water, water treatment
Media type is a critical design consideration when implementing biofiltration for drinking water treatment. Granular activated carbon (GAC) has been shown to provide superior performance when compared to a wide range of media types, largely due to its higher surface area. Engineered ceramic media is an attractive alternative to GAC as it has a similar surface area but at a lower cost.This pilot-scale biofiltration study compared the performance of GAC, anthracite and two different effective sizes of ceramic (CER) media (1.0 mm and 1.2 mm), in terms of dissolved organic carbon (DOC), head loss, turbidity, and disinfection by-product formation potential (DBPFP). Biological acclimation was monitored using adenosine tri-phosphate (ATP) measurements; biomass was further examined using laccase and esterase enzyme activity assays.When compared to other media types examined, biological GAC had higher (p > 0.05) removals of DOC (9.8 ± 3.8%), trihalomethane formation potential (THMFP, 26.3 ± 10.2%), and haloacetic acid formation potential (HAAFP, 27.2 ± 14.0%). CER media required 6–7 months to biologically acclimate, while filters containing GAC and anthracite were biologically active (>100 ng of ATP/g media) following 30–45 days of operation. Once acclimated, ATP values of 243 and 208 ng/g attained for CER 1.0 and 1.2, respectively, were statistically comparable to GAC (244 ng/g) and higher than anthracite (110 ng/g), however this did not translate into greater organics removal. Esterase and laccase enzyme kinetics were highest for GAC, while CER was shown to have greater biodegradation potential than anthracite. The four media types attained similar turbidity reduction (p > 0.05), however ceramic media filters were observed to have run times which were 1.5–2.3 times longer when compared to anthracite, which could represent potential cost savings in terms of energy for pumping and backwash requirements. Overall, ceramic media was shown to be a potential alternative to anthracite when considering biofiltration, especially during cold water conditions (T < 10 °C).