A comparative study of the hydroxyl radical scavenging capacity of activated sludge and membrane bioreactor wastewater effluents

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

This study evaluated the hydroxyl radical scavenging characteristics of wastewater from five membrane bioreactor (MBR) and five activated sludge (AS) systems. The average values of the characteristics of both wastewater types was found to be significantly different at a 90% confidence interval in terms UV absorbance at 254 nm, alkalinity, and biopolymer concentration. Effluent organic matter (EfOM), with an average kOH,EfOM of (2.75 ± 1.04) × 108 M−1s−1, was identified as the primary hydroxyl scavenger contributing to >70% of the background scavenging in all cases, except when nitrite exceeded 0.3 mg NO2-N/L. The average scavenging capacity, EfOM scavenging capacity, and the EfOM reaction rate constant of the AS wastewaters exceeded that of the MBR. However, due to the small sample size (n = 5) and considerable variability in scavenging characteristics among the MBR wastewaters, the difference in EfOM reactivity between the two wastewaters was not statistically significant at a 90% confidence interval. Nevertheless, these preliminary findings suggest the possibility that MBR wastewaters may be more amenable to treatment by advanced oxidation. A plausible explanation is that MBRs were observed to reject biopolymers, and a strong correlation was observed between EfOM scavenging capacity and biopolymer concentration.

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