Removal of contaminants of emerging concern from real wastewater by an innovative hybrid membrane process - UltraSound, Adsorption, and Membrane ultrafiltration (USAMe®).Ultrason Sonochem. 2020 Nov; 68:105237.US
The low-level presence of emerging contaminants (ECs) in the environment has raised a great concern due to their persistence, chronic toxicological, and endocrine disrupting effects on terrestrial and aquatic organisms. Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) have become hotspots for the spread of these contaminants to the environment as conventional processes are not efficient in removing them. Thus, the integration of advanced treatment methods within the chain of WWTPs is very essential. In this study, the innovative hybrid process USAMe® which integrates ultrasound irradiation (US), adsorption (A) and membrane filtration (Me) was investigated for the removal of ECs from secondary effluents. Diclofenac, carbamazepine, and amoxicillin were selected due to their large consumption and frequent presence in the aquatic environment. All three ECs were spiked into real secondary wastewater effluent at two concentrations of 10 ppm and 100 ppb. Membrane ultrafiltration and its combination with US (USMe) or adsorption (AMe) were also studied as control tests. The hybrid combination of all the three methods in the USAMe® processes elevated the EC removals to above 99% as compared to only around 90% in the AMe process. All effluents of the hybrid USAMe® processes gave "No Effect" to D. magna, with immobilization of ≤20%. Therefore, results showed that the USAMe® process was efficient in not only removing ECs, but also in generating safe and less toxic treated effluents; thereby displaying its potential as an advanced method for wastewater treatment.