Changes in molecular dissolved organic matter and disinfection by-product formation during granular activated carbon filtration by unknown screening analysis with Orbitrap mass spectrometry.Water Res. 2022 Mar 01; 211:118039.WR
The minimization of disinfection by-product (DBP) formation by the removal of its precursors before water disinfection is a highly effective approach. Granular activated carbon (GAC) filtration is widely used for water treatment, but our understanding of molecular dissolved organic matter (DOM) remains insufficient. This research investigates the removal of DOM and the minimization of DBP formation by pilot-scale coal- and coconut-based granular activated carbon filtrations (coAC and ccAC, respectively) using unknown screening analysis with Orbitrap mass spectrometry. DOM adsorption rates by both GACs were fitted with pseudo-second order models with initial adsorption rates of 0.005 mg g-1 min-1 and 0.022 mg g-1 min-1 for ccAC and coAC, respectively. Based on observations, ccAC was more effective in the removal of dissolved organic carbon and prolonged adsorption longer than coAC, as the breakthrough of coAC was found on Day 10. ccAC removed compounds with carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen (CHO features) with a wide range of oxidation states, as indicated by the carbon oxidation state (Cos), and a wide range of unsaturation, as indicated by oxygen subtracted double bond equivalent per carbon ([DBE-O]/C), while coAC selectively removed only those CHO features with less oxidized characters. Less oxidized compounds (low Cos) were preferentially removed with less contact time, while more oxidized compounds needed more contact time to adsorb on the GACs. A biofilm was developed on Day 60, and many CHO features were found to have increased after GAC treatment on Day 60, indicating the formation of microbial products. Chlorination resulted in a decrease in many CHO and CHO with Cl atom (CHOCl) features and the formation of CHOCl DBPs more than CHO DBP features. ccAC was effective in the minimization of trihalomethane (THM) and CHOCl DBP feature formations on Day 10 and Day 60, while coAC was found to be much less effective.