Projecting competition between 2-methylisoborneol and natural organic matter in adsorption onto activated carbon from ozonated source waters

Qi Wang, Frederik Zietzschmann, Jianwei Yu, Roberta Hofman, Wei An, Min Yang, Luuk C. Rietveld

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Though the ozone-activated carbon process has been widely applied for drinking water purification, little is known about how ozone-modified natural organic matter (NOM) competes with micropollutants in activated carbon adsorption. In this study, three natural waters and one synthetic water (standard humics solution) with highly heterogeneous NOM compositions were employed to investigate the interference of ozonated NOM with the adsorption of 2-methylisoborneol (MIB). Analysis using liquid chromatography with online carbon and UV254 detection (LC-OCD-UVD) revealed that ozonation led to various disintegration patterns of macromolecules in NOM, and UV absorbance was reduced markedly for nearly all NOM fractions. Powdered activated carbon (PAC) adsorption experiments showed that increasing ozone consumption coincided with reducing NOM competition against MIB in the three natural waters, as expressed by the fitted initial concentrations of the equivalent background compound (c0,EBC). In the synthetic water, in contrast, competition increased under low/moderate specific ozone consumptions and then decreased with further elevation of ozone consumptions. Regarding the significance on affecting ozonated NOM interference, aromaticity reduction outweighed formation of low molecular weight (LMW) organics in most cases, enhancing MIB adsorption capacity. However, disintegration of the humics fraction with larger molecular weight (1,103 g/mol, as compared to 546–697 g/mol in three natural waters) into smaller, more competitive fractions caused the observed initial deteriorated MIB adsorption in synthetic water. A superior correlation between c0,EBC and the UV absorbance of LMW organics (R2 = 0.93) over concentrations of LMW organics underlined the importance of the aromatic properties in competitive adsorption projection for ozone pretreated natural waters. Furthermore, the change of relative concentration of UV absorbing compounds during ozonation could help estimate the decrease of c0,EBC, which could be a promising tool for waterworks to adjust PAC doses for MIB removal in ozonated waters.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115574
Number of pages9
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Activated carbon
  • Competitive adsorption
  • MIB
  • Natural organic matter
  • Ozonation


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