Coupling membrane separation and photocatalytic oxidation processes for the degradation of pharmaceutical pollutants
The coupling of membrane separation and photocatalytic oxidation has been studied for the removal of pharmaceutical pollutants. The retention properties of two different membranes (nanofiltration and reverse osmosis) were assessed. Comparable selectivity on the separation of pharmaceuticals were observed for both membranes, obtaining a permeate stream with concentrations of each pharmaceutical below 0.5 mg/L and a rejected flux highly concentrated (in the range of 16-25 mg/L and 18-32 mg/L of each pharmaceutical for NF-90 and BW-30 membranes, respectively), when an initial stream of six pharmaceuticals was feeding to the membrane system (10 mg/L of each pharmaceutical). The abatement of concentrated pharmaceuticals of the rejected stream was evaluated by means of heterogeneous photocatalytic oxidation using TiO2 and Fe2O3/SBA-15 in presence of hydrogen peroxide as photo-Fenton system. Both photocatalytic treatments showed remarkable removals of pharmaceutical compounds, achieving values between 80 and 100 %. The nicotine was the most refractory pollutant of all the studied pharmaceuticals. Photo-Fenton treatment seems to be more effective than TiO2 photocatalysis, as high mineralization degree and increased nicotine removal were attested. This work can be considered an interesting approach of coupling membrane separation and heterogeneous photocatalytic technologies for the successful abatement of pharmaceutical compounds in effluents of wastewater treatment plants.
Línea Investigación: Línea 1. Procesos de depuración de aguas residuales
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