We present an assessment of xenobiotic organic micro-pollutants (XOM) occurrence and removal of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in a novel biofilm system combined with ozonation, the BIOZO concept, treating partly stabilised landfill leachate. A novel, staged moving-bed biofilm reactor (SMBBR) design was implemented in laboratory- and pilot-scale, and the PAHs removal efficiency of controlled ozonation was assessed installing the ozonation step in the nitrate recirculation line (Position 1) or between the pre-anoxic and aerobic zones (Position 2). COD removal in a laboratory- and in a pilot-scale SMBBR system with and without ozonation is additionally addressed. Results obtained in a screening study (GC-ToF-MS) were used to compile a priority list of XOMs in leachate based on relative occurrence, showing PAHs as the predominant fraction. Biological treatment is shown to be an effective means to remove PAHs detected in the aqueous phase. PAH removal takes in most part place in the pre-anoxic zone, thereby decreasing toxicity exhibited by PAH on autotrophic nitrifier bacteria in the aerobic zone. Ozonation installed in Position 2 is shown to be superior over Position I in terms of COD, PAH and nitrogen removal efficiencies. We additionally demonstrate the potential of intermittent sludge ozonation as a means to decrease PAH concentrations in sludge wasted and to improve nitrogen removal in the BIOZO system.
Keywords: biodegradation, landfill leachate, moving-bed biofilm system, ozonation, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, xenobiotic organic micro-pollutants