Publication

Pretreatment options for micropollutant abatement before aquifer recharge in drinking water production: Assessment of UV/H2O2 and dense membranes

Robin Wünsch
EPFL, 2022
EPFL thesis
Abstract

Micropollutants (MP) such as residues of pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals or pesticides can be detected in almost all water resources. Various processes can be used to abate them in drinking water treatment, e.g., ozonation, advanced oxidation processes (AOP), adsorption on activated carbon or membrane filtration. The selection of a suitable process combination is a complex task for water suppliers.This thesis compares two process chains in the context of a multi-barrier system including managed aquifer recharge (MAR). To protect soils and aquifers from MP in the future, an additional barrier against MP upstream of the MAR was investigated: (1) a full-stream treatment using the AOP UV/H2O2, and (2) a side-stream treatment with low-pressure reverse osmosis (LPRO) or nanofiltration (NF) and ozonation of the retentate to treat the concentrated MPs.Pilot-scale experiments were conducted to determine the relative abatements of MP by UV/H2O2 treatment and by a subsequent soil column treatment. Compared to a soil column fed with water without UV/H2O2 pretreatment, the performance of the combined process (UV/H2O2 + soil column) was more efficient. However, this could be explained by an additive effect of the individual processes.Relative abatements in the UV/H2O2 process are mainly based on the introduced UV fluence and hydroxyl radical exposure. These parameters could be calculated with a model based on the measured relative abatements of two MPs (probe compounds) and their kinetic data (second-order rate constants for the reactions with hydroxyl radical, absorbance and quantum yield).With this information, the relative abatements of other MPs could be predicted with an accuracy of ±20%. A sensitivity analysis of the model showed that the relative abatements of the selected probe compounds should be >50%. In this case, the accuracy of the calculated parameters depends mainly on the precision of the kinetic data.In the case of membrane-based treatment of water by LPRO or NF, a concentrate is produced. Ozonation to treat MP in the concentrate is accompanied by a formation of the possibly carcinogenic bromate by oxidation of bromide. To achieve the highest possible MP abatement with simultaneously low bromate formation, both membrane selection and subsequent concentrate ozonation were investigated. In laboratory tests with standardized concentrates, neither the water source nor the membrane type caused a change in bromate yield for similar relative MP abatements. However, NF membranes have lower relative retentions of bromide and MP than LPRO membranes, making NF concentrates more suitable for ozonation with limited bromate formation.A comparison of UV/H2O2 with membrane treatment showed that full-stream treatment with UV/H2O2 has about four times lower costs and an about five times lower environmental impact. In addition it achieves significantly higher disinfection. In contrast, side-stream treatment with LPRO causes up to two times lower impacts for the environment when the electrical energy source is wind or hydropower. This study thus contributes technical, economic, and environmental aspects to a holistic evaluation of the two process options.

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