Removal of medicines at WWTP

Research Type | Medicine Removal from WWTP effluent through advanced oxidation (AOP)

Research project| TKI project in cooperation with KWR

Year | 2016


Medicines are valuable to public health. The use of medicinal drugs is increasing, partly as a result of the aging population. Medicinal drug residues get into wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) via the toilet and drains. However, only 60% to 70% of the medicine residue is removed at this stage. The remainder is discharged into surface water. It is already known that a number of these substances have adverse effects on the environment and aquatic organisms. For some of these medicines, the secure safe concentration limits have already been exceeded. This is true for such things as diclofenac (analgesic), azytrhomycine, clarithromycin and sulfamethoxazole (antibiotics), and carbamazepine (anit-epileptic). Since the surface water is an important source for the production of our drinking water, it is essential that the removal of these medicine residues is optimised.

PureBlue participation in TKI Water Technology

These developments require close cooperation between the Government, industry and universities. With this in mind, a joint project was launched within the TKI Water Technology between PureBlue, KWR Water Cycle Research Institute, Waterschapsbedrijf Limburg (WBL) and Limburg Water Company (WML). In this project, the removal of medicines and their residues from wastewater treatment plant effluent was tested on a laboratory and pilot scale.

Pilot Test on effluent from WWTP Panheel

After thorough laboratory tests, a pilot test consisting of ion exchange followed by advanced oxidation was performed on the effluent from the Panheel wastewater treatment plant. The pilot installation was built by PureBlue. The investigation showed that the effluent contained a lot of organic matter (humic acids, among others). This organic material interferes with the removal processes. By means of an effective pre-treatment with ion exchange, the humic acids present are removed. As a result, the advanced oxidation of the micro pollutants is more efficient and effective. Moreover, this results in a significantly lower energy consumption by the oxidation process, bringing the estimated cost of the overall process in line with the estimates for other processes, such as filtration over activated carbon and ozonisation.

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