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Control of emerging contaminants by the combination of electrochemical processes and membrane bioreactors

Ensano, Benny Marie B., Borea, Laura, Naddeo, Vincenzo, de Luna, Mark Daniel G., Belgiorno, Vincenzo
Environmental science and pollution research international 2019 v.26 no.2 pp. 1103-1112
ammonium nitrogen, amoxicillin, diclofenac, drugs, electric field, electrochemistry, electrocoagulation, electrophoresis, fouling, humic substances, membrane bioreactors, orthophosphates, pollutants, therapeutics, wastewater
This study investigates the removal of selected pharmaceuticals, as recalcitrant organic compounds, from synthetic wastewater using an electro-membrane bioreactor (eMBR). Diclofenac (DCF), carbamazepine (CBZ), and amoxicillin (AMX) were selected as representative drugs from three different therapeutic groups such as anti-inflammatory, anti-epileptic, and antibiotic, respectively. An environmentally relevant concentration (10 μg/L) of each compound was spiked into the synthetic wastewater, and then, the impact of appending electric field on the control of membrane fouling and the removal of conventional contaminants and pharmaceutical micropollutants were assessed. A conventional membrane bioreactor (MBR) was operated as a control test. A reduction of membrane fouling was observed in the eMBR with a 44% decrease of the fouling rate and a reduction of membrane fouling precursors. Humic substances (UV₂₅₄), ammonia nitrogen (NH₄-N), and orthophosphate (PO₄-P) showed in eMBR removal efficiencies up to 90.68 ± 4.37, 72.10 ± 13.06, and 100%, respectively, higher than those observed in the MBR. A reduction of DCF, CBZ, and AMX equal to 75.25 ± 8.79, 73.84 ± 9.24, and 72.12 ± 10.11%, respectively, was found in the eMBR due to the enhanced effects brought by electrochemical processes, such as electrocoagulation, electrophoresis, and electrooxidation.