Main content area

Ozonation of municipal wastewater effluent containing metal sulfides and metal complexes: Kinetics and mechanisms

Thalmann, Basilius, von Gunten, Urs, Kaegi, Ralf
Water research 2018 v.134 pp. 170-180
EDTA (chelating agent), algae, aquatic environment, bioavailability, cadmium, copper, ecology, effluents, lead, magnesium, metal ions, municipal wastewater, nickel, oxidation, ozonation, ozone, pH, toxicity, wastewater treatment, zinc, zinc sulfide
Ozonation can be applied to mitigate the discharge of organic micropollutants from municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) to the aquatic environment. The toxicity of metals also present in WWTP effluents strongly depends on their speciation. Therefore, knowledge on the change of the metal speciation during ozonation of a WWTP effluent is essential to assess possible negative impacts. The kinetics and the stoichiometries of the reactions of ozone with three metal sulfides (ZnS, CuS and CdS) and metal-ethylenediaminetetraacetate (EDTA)/nitriloriacetic acid (NTA) complexes of Cu(II), Cd(II), Ni(II), Zn(II), Mg(II) and Pb(II) were investigated. With a stoichiometric factor of 2.6–3.9 moles of ozone per mole of sulfide and apparent second-order rate constants at pH 8 > 104 M−1 s−1, a complete oxidation of the sulfides and a concomitant release of the respective metals is expected during ozonation of a WWTP effluent for enhanced micropollutant abatement. The apparent second-order rate constants at pH 8 for the reactions of metal-EDTA complexes with ozone ranged from 42 M−1s−1 to 2.0 × 104 M−1s−1 and increased in the order Cd(II) < Cu(II) < Mg(II) < Ni(II) < Zn(II). Approximately 40% of Cd(II)-EDTA spiked to a WWTP effluent was oxidized at typical specific ozone doses of 0.5–0.7 gO3/gDOC. For the other metal-EDTA complexes a significantly higher fraction was oxidized. The bioavailable fraction determined by the diffusive-gradient thin films (DGT) method in the WWTP effluent increased during ozonation, due to the oxidative release of the metal ions. Algal toxicity (chlamynomodas reinhardtii) tests with CuS/CdS spiked WWTP effluent revealed a high tolerance toward Cu and Cd in the respective media. A toxic response was only observed at Cu concentrations above 10 μM, which is above typical WWTP effluent concentrations. Biological post-treatment after ozonation generally reduced the bioavailability of the metals, which resulted in a lower toxicity. Therefore, the biological post-treatment serves as an additional barrier to protect the downstream ecology of receiving waters.