Removal of pharmaceuticals from WWTP effluent: removal of EfOM followed by advanced oxidation

C.H.M. Hofman-Caris, Wolter Siegers, Kevin van de Merlen, Ad de Man, Johannes Hofman

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Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) throughout the Netherlands contain significant concentrations of pharmaceuticals (25-65 μg/L) and about 10-20 mg C/L dissolved non-biodegradable organic matter. By means of IEX mainly the humic acid fraction of the effluent organic matter can be removed, whereas O3/biofiltration mainly removes the hydrophobic fraction. For the first time the combination of these processes with O3/H2O2, UV/H2O2 or UV/O3 was tested for the removal of pharmaceuticals from wastewater effluent. Based on initial laboratory experiments, a pilot installation was built in which IEX followed by UV/H2O2 was applied to real WWTP effluent. The process appeared to be very robust, and able to remove a very broad range of different pharmaceuticals. The additional costs for this treatment are estimated at approximately €0.34/m3-treated effluent, which is in the same order of magnitude as estimated for other additional, but less versatile, treatment processes.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberCEJ-D-17-03620R1
Pages (from-to)514-521
Number of pages8
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
Early online date27 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • Pharmaceuticals
  • effluent organic matter
  • Ion exchange
  • advanced oxidation
  • ozone/biofiltration
  • energy demand


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