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Published: 2020-11-26

New advanced treatment technology improves wastewater quality

NEWS In a new thesis from the Industrial Doctoral School, Majid Mustafa have studied an advanced oxidation process called electro-peroxone. By this new process, significantly increased removal of persistent pollutants can be achieved in wastewater, in comparison to ozonation. Majid Mustafa defends his dissertation at Umeå University on 3 December.

Text: Ingrid Söderbergh

The ozonation process is extensively used at wastewater treatment plants around the world for removal of micropollutants. However, ozonation cannot remove all substances.

“We need a treatment process which can overall improve wastewater quality by removing all types of micropollutants including persistent ones”, says Majid Mustafa, PhD student at the Industrial Doctoral School and the Department of Chemistry at Umeå University.

Removal of structurally diverse micropollutants including pharmaceuticals, biocides and other everyday chemicals found in wastewater, is challenging. Among various available treatment processes, ozonation can remove large number of organic pollutants from wastewater. However, many pollutants are persistent to ozonation, due to their specific structural features, and will be released into the environment using ozonation for wastewater treatment.

Another challenge is to identify ozone resistant pollutants among the large number of chemicals entering the sewage system. This is in order to fully understand the problem associated with ozonation use at wastewater treatment plants.

The presence of micropollutants in wastewaters, due to inefficiency of wastewater treatment plants, poses potential threats not only to aquatic system but also to humans due to their potential toxicity and potential to induce antibiotic resistance. Thus, removal of micropollutants is urgent in order to improve treated wastewater quality.

During his PhD, Majid Mustafa has been studying and developing an emerging process called electro-peroxone in the lab as well as up-scaling the process to pilot level with considerable increase in treatment capacity.

“My results show that the electro-peroxone process can accelerate and improve the removal of persistent pollutants from ozonation without consuming additional electrical energy. This means that E-peroxone can improve water quality substantially by reducing the pollutant loads in the water,” says Majid Mustafa.

In addition, Majid Mustafa has developed a computational model to predict the ozone reactivity of 491 pharmaceuticals available in Swedish market. The results show that a large number of pharmaceuticals are persistent to ozonation, which was not known so far. The electro-peroxone process will improve the removal of not only these persistent pharmaceuticals but also other classical groups of persistent organic contaminants.

“A big advantage of electro-peroxone process is that ozonation can easily be retrofitted to electro-peroxone by inserting two electrodes in the ozonation reactor. This means existing ozonation systems at wastewater treatment plants can be upgraded to electro-peroxone process without investing a large amount of money, tells Majid Mustafa.

The results are encouraging and giving hope that we are going in the right direction. Majid Mustafa’s external part in the doctoral project has been Envix Nord AB and Majid will now continue to develop the electro-peroxone process for different applications in a new role at the company.

Read the whole thesis

Press photo. Credit: Ingrid Söderbergh


About the dissertation:

On Thursday 3 December, Majid Mustafa, Industrial Doctoral School and Department of Chemistry at Umeå University, defends his thesis entitled: Removal of micropollutants from wastewater- Evaluation of effect of upgrading ozonation to electro-peroxone.

The defence will take place at 10:00 am in Glasburen, in the KBC building, Umeå University. Audience may join via Zoom or in Stora Fokusrummet, KBC building.

The faculty opponent is Prof. Dr. Santiago Esplugas, University of Barcelona in Spain.