Rapid small-scale column testing of granular activated carbon for organic micro-pollutant removal in treated domestic wastewater

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This study investigates the applicability of the rapid small-scale column test (RSSCT) concept for testing of granular activated carbon (GAC) for organic micro-pollutants (OMPs) removal from wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluent. The chosen experimental setup was checked using pure water, WWTP effluent, different GAC products, and variable hydrodynamic conditions with different flow velocities and differently sized GAC, as well as different empty bed contact times (EBCTs). The setup results in satisfying reproducibility and robustness. RSSCTs in combination with WWTP effluent are effective when comparing the OMP removal potentials of different GAC products and are a useful tool for the estimation of larger filters. Due to the potentially high competition between OMPs and bulk organics, breakthrough curves are likely to have unfavorable shapes when treating WWTP effluent. This effect can be counteracted by extending the EBCT. With respect to the strong competition observed in GAC treatment of WWTP effluent, the small organic acid and neutral substances are retained longer in the RSSCT filters and are likely to cause the majority of the observed adsorption competition with OMPs.

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