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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Sorption characteristics and removal efficiency of organic micropollutants in drinking water using Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) in pilot-scale and full-scale tests

Golovko, Oksana; de Brito Anton, Luana; Cascone, Claudia; Ahrens, Lutz; Lavonen, Elin; Köhler, Stephan

Abstract

Granulated active carbon (GAC) is commonly used as a chemical barrier for the removal of organic micropollutants (OMPs) in drinking water treatment plants (DWTPs). However, little is known about the impact of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and its long-term performance with regard to OMP removal efficiency. This study examined the performance of two GAC types (Norit 830W and Filtrasorb 400) in the removal of OMPs and DOC from natural lake water, in pilot-scale and full-scale tests run for almost one year. Potential early warning indicators of the exhaustion of GAC sorption capacity were also evaluated. The seven OMPs investigated (carbamazepine, lamotrigine, cetirizine, fexofenadine, oxazepam, fluconazole and N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET)) all showed decreasing removal efficiencies after ~20,000 bed volumes (BV) in the pilot-scale Norit 830W and Filtrasorb 400 columns. However, columns with an 18-min empty bed contact time (EBCT) showed better performances than columns with 6-min EBCT. DEET was the OMP adsorbed most weakly. We found that DOC concentrations, methylene blue sorption kinetics, UV and fluorescence did not sufficiently explain the OMP breakthrough in the GAC columns. We concluded that carbamazepine, lamotrigine and fexofenadine can be used as indicators of decreasing GAC adsorption performance, due to their later breakthrough. Based on the results, UV and fluorescence removal could be used for the early detection of declining DOC removal, and online solid-phase extraction (SPE)–liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (SPE-LC-MS/MS) could be used for the early detection of OMPs in drinking water.

Keywords

granulated active carbon; pharmaceuticals; removal efficiency; breakthrough; methylene blue

Published in

Water
2020, Volume: 12, number: 7, article number: 2053