Removal and destruction of organic contaminants in water using adsorption, steam regeneration, and photocatalytic oxidation: A pilot-scale study

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The overall objective of this pilot-scale study is to investigate the technical feasibility of the removal and destruction of organic contaminants in water using adsorption and photocatalytic oxidation. The process consists of two consecutive operational steps: (1) removal of organic contaminants using fixed-bed adsorption; and (2) regeneration of spent adsorbent using photocatalysis or steam, followed by decontamination of steam condensate using photocatalysis. The pilot-scale study was conducted to evaluate these options at a water treatment plant in Wausau (Wisconsin) for treatment of groundwater contaminated with tetrachloroethene (PCE), trichloroethene (TCE), cis-dichloroethene (cis-DCE), toluene, ethylbenzene (EB), and xylenes. The adsorbents used were F-400 GAC and Ambersorb 563. In the first treatment strategy, the adsorbents were impregnated with photocatalyst and used for the removal of aqueous organics. The spent adsorbents were then exposed to ultraviolet light to achieve photocatalytic regeneration. Regeneration of adsorbents using photocatalysis was observed to be not effective, probably because the impregnated photocatalyst was fouled by background organic matter present in the groundwater matrix. In the second treatment strategy, the spent adsorbents were regenerated using steam, followed by cleanup of steam condensate using photocatalysis. Four cycles of adsorption and three cycles of steam regeneration were performed. Ambersorb 563 adsorbent was successfully regenerated using saturated steam at 160 °C within 20 hours. The steam condensate was treated using fixed-bed photo-catalysis using 1% Pt-TiO2 photocatalyst supported on silica gel. After 35 minutes of empty bed contact time, more than 95% removal of TCE, cis-DCE, toluene, EB, and xylenes was achieved, and more than 75% removal of PCE was observed. In the case of activated carbon adsorbent, steam regeneration was not effective, and a significant loss in adsorbent capacity was observed. © 1999 Air and Waste Management Association.

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Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association