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Optimization of photo-Fenton process for the treatment of prednisolone

Díez, Aida María, Ribeiro, Ana Sofia, Sanromán, Maria Angeles, Pazos, Marta
Environmental science and pollution research international 2018 v.25 no.28 pp. 27768-27782
aquatic organisms, diodes, drugs, energy efficiency, experimental design, hydrogen peroxide, iron, mineralization, models, oxidation, photolysis, pollution control, prednisolone, response surface methodology, toxicity, ultraviolet radiation, viability, wastewater
Prednisolone is a widely prescribed synthetic glucocorticoid and stated to be toxic to a number of non-target aquatic organisms. Its extensive consumption generates environmental concern due to its detection in wastewater samples at concentrations ranged from ng/L to μg/L that requests the application of suitable degradation processes. Regarding the actual treatment options, advanced oxidation processes (AOPs) are presented as a viable alternative. In this work, the comparison in terms of pollutant removal and energetic efficiencies, between different AOPs such as Fenton (F), photo-Fenton (UV/F), photolysis (UV), and hydrogen peroxide/photolysis (UV/H₂O₂), was carried out. Light diode emission (LED) was the selected source to provide the UV radiation. The UV/F process revealed the best performance, reaching high levels of both degradation and mineralization with low energy consumption. Its optimization was conducted and the operational parameters were iron and H₂O₂ concentrations and the working volume. Using the response surface methodology with the Box-Behnken design, the effect of independent variables and their interactions on the process response were effectively evaluated. Different responses were analyzed taking into account the prednisolone removal (TOC and drug abatements) and the energy consumptions associated. The obtained model showed an improvement of the UV/F process when treating smaller volumes and when adding high concentrations of H₂O₂ and Fe²⁺. The validation of this model was successfully carried out, having only 5% of discrepancy between the model and the experimental results. Finally, the performance of the process when having a real wastewater matrix was also tested, achieving complete mineralization and detoxification after 8 h. In addition, prednisolone degradation products were identified. Finally, the obtained low energy permitted to confirm the viability of the process.