Removing organic and nitrogen content from a highly saline municipal wastewater reverse osmosis concentrate by UV/H2O2-BAC treatment.

PMID 26002159


Reverse osmosis (RO) concentrate (ROC) streams generated from RO-based municipal wastewater reclamation processes pose potential health and environmental risks on their disposal to confined water bodies such as bays. A UV/H2O2 advanced oxidation process followed by a biological activated carbon (BAC) treatment was evaluated at lab-scale for the removal of organic and nutrient content from a highly saline ROC (TDS 16 g L(-1), EC 23.5 mS cm(-1)) for its safe disposal to the receiving environment. Over the 230-day operation of the UV/H2O2-BAC process, the colour and UV absorbance (254 nm) of the ROC were reduced to well below those of the influent to the reclamation process. The concentrations of DOC and total nitrogen (TN) were reduced by approximately 60% at an empty bed contact time (EBCT) of 60 min. The reduction in ammonia nitrogen by the BAC remained high under all conditions tested (>90%). Further investigation confirmed that the presence of residual peroxide in the UV/H2O2 treated ROC was beneficial for DOC removal, but markedly inhibited the activities of the nitrifying bacteria (i.e., nitrite oxidising bacteria) in the BAC system and hence compromised total nitrogen removal. This work demonstrated that the BAC treatment could be acclimated to the very high salinity environment, and could be used as a robust method for the removal of organic matter and nitrogen from the pre-oxidised ROC under optimised conditions.