Environmental Science and Health

MENAPACE, H. M.; DIAZ, N.; WEISS, S. (2008): Electrochemical treatment of pharmaceutical wastewater by combining anodic oxidation with ozonation. Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part A, 43:8, 961 — 968


Wastewater effluents from sewage treatment plants (STP) are important point sources for residues of pharmaceuticals and complexing agents in the aquatic environment.


For this reason a research project, which started in December 2006, was established to eliminate pharmaceutical substances and complexing agents found in wastewater as micropollutants. For the treatment process a combination of anodic oxidation by boron-doped diamond (BDD) electrodes and ozonation is examined and presented. For the ozone production a non-conventional, separate reactor was used, in which ozone was generated by electrolysis with diamond electrodes. For the determination of the achievable remediation rates four complexing agents (e.g., EDTA, NTA) and eight pharmaceutical substances (e.g., diazepam, carbamazepin) were analyzed in several test runs under different conditions (varied flux, varied current density for the diamond electrode and the ozone producing electrode of the ozone generator, different packing materials for the column in the ozone injection system). The flowrates of the treated water samples were varied from 3 L/h up to 26 L/h. For the anodic oxidation the influence of the current density was examined in the range between 22.7 and 45.5 mA/cm2, for the ozone producing reactor two densities (1.8 a/cm2 and 2.0 A/cm2) were tested.


Matrix effects were investigated by test runs with samples from the effluent of an STP and synthetic waste water. Therefore the impact of the organic material in the samples could be determined by the comparison of the redox potential and the achievable elimination rates of the investigated substances. Comparing both technologies anodic oxidation seems to be superior to ozonation in each investigated area.With the used technology of anodic oxidation elimination rates up to 99% were reached for the investigated pharmaceutical substances at a current density of 45.5 mA/cm2 and a maximum sample flux of 26 L/h.


Keywords: Anodic oxidation, ozonation, pharmaceutical wastewater, endocrine substances, complexing agents, EDTA, diamond electrodes.