Reverse osmosis followed by activated carbon filtration for efficient removal of organic micropollutants from river bank filtrate

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Drinking water utilities in Europe are faced with a growing presence of organic micropollutants in their water sources. The aim of this research was to assess the robustness of a drinking water treatment plant equipped with reverse osmosis and subsequent activated carbon filtration for the removal of these pollutants. The total removal efficiency of 47 organic micropollutants was investigated. Results indicated that removal of most organic micropollutants was high for all membranes tested. Some selected micropollutants were less efficiently removed (e.g. the small and polar NDMA and glyphosate, and the more hydrophobic ethylbenzene and napthalene). Very high removal efficiencies for almost all organic micropollutants by the subsequent activated carbon, fed with the permeate stream of the RO element were observed except for the very small and polar NDMA and 1,4-dioxane. RO and subsequent activated carbon filtration are complementary and their combined application results in the removal of a large part of these emerging organic micropollutants. Based on these experiments it can be concluded that the robustness of a proposed treatment scheme for the drinking water treatment plant Engelse Werk is sufficiently guaranteed.

Keywords: activated carbon, organic micropollutants, river bank filtrate, reverse osmosis

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