Low voltage iron electrocoagulation as a tertiary treatment of municipal wastewater: removal of enteric pathogen indicators and antibiotic-resistant bacteria

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Abstract

In this paper we analyse the feasibility of low voltage iron electrocoagulation as a means of municipal secondary effluent treatment with a focus on removal of microbial indicators, Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria (ARB) and nutrients. A laboratory scale batch unit equipped with iron electrodes was used on synthetic and real secondary effluent from a municipal wastewater treatment plant. Synthetic secondary effluent was separately assayed with spiked Escherichia coli WR1 and with bacteriophage ΦX174, while real effluent samples were screened before and after treatment for E. coli, Extended Spectrum Betalactamase-producing E. coli, Enterococci, Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci, Clostridium perfringens spores and somatic coliphages. Charge dosage (CD) and charge dosage rate (CDR) were used as the main process control parameters. Experiments with synthetic secondary effluent showed >4log10 and >5log10 removal for phage ΦX174 and for E. coli WR1, respectively. In real effluents, bacterial indicator removal exceeded 3.5log10, ARB were removed below detection limit (≥2.5log10), virus removal reached 2.3log10 and C. perfringens spore removal exceeded 2.5log10. Experiments in both real and synthetic wastewater showed that bacterial removal increased with increasing CD and decreasing CDR. Virus removal increased with increasing CD but was irresponsive to CDR. C. perfringens spore removal increased with increasing CD yet reached a removal plateau, being also irresponsive to CDR. Phosphate removal exceeded 99%, while total nitrogen and chemical oxygen demand removal were below 15% and 58%, respectively. Operational cost estimates were made for power and iron plate consumption, and were found to be in the range of 0.01 to 0.24€/m3 for the different assayed configurations. In conclusion, low voltage Fe-EC is a promising technology for pathogen reduction of secondary municipal effluents, with log10 removals comparable to those achieved by conventional disinfection methods such as chlorination, UV or ozonation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116500
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalWater Research
Volume188
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • electrocoagulation
  • iron
  • pathogens
  • secondary effluent
  • water reclamation

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