Micropollutants removal by adsorption on activated carbon

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Adsorption is a process where a solid is used for removing a soluble substance from the water: a phase transfer process occurs and substances originally in the liquid phase are adsorbed on a porous solid surface called adsorbent.
Activated carbon is the adsorbent most used in wastewater treatments and is produced from carbon-rich materials of mineral or vegetable origin.
Active carbon can be used in water treatment plants in two forms: the powder activated carbon (PAC) and the granular activated carbon (GAC). During this experimental activities we chose to use the PAC, a fine powder with big internal surface that makes it ideal for adsorption.

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Planned activities within PerFORM WATER 2030

The experimental activities regarding the micropollutants removal by adsorption on activated carbon are part of the Water research line included in PerFORM WATER 2030.
It is planned to design and implement a pilot scale plant for the removal of micropollutants on the wastewater leaving the secondary sedimenters of the San Giuliano Milanese Est wastewater treatment plan for an in-depth study of the Actiflo™ Carb technology, patented by the Veolia group, with the help of laboratory analysis carried out by Veolia and IRSA-CNR.

Objectives and expected results

  • Definition of the most suitable activated carbon for the implementation of the technology.

  • Identification of the optimal operating parameters for the process.

Description of the activities

  • Design and realization of a pilot scale system as chemical-physical treatment downstream of a conventional municipal waste water treatment chain.

  • Start-up, operation and monitoring of the pilot-scale system, testing different operating conditions.

  • Execution of specific tests for adsorption isotherms in the laboratory for the definition of kinetics and of the most performing coal.

Pilot site

The experimental activities will be located at San Giuliano Milanese East WWTP (Wastewater treatment plant) operated by CAP Group.
For further information, please refer to the specific web-page dedicated to demonstration sites of PerFORM WATER 2030.

Partners involved

Veolia Water Technologies carried out the design and construction of the pilot plant.
DICA-AMB Department of Politecnico di Milano, with Veolia, defined the experimental plan and provided the scientific support for the setting up of the experimental activity aimed at identifying the optimal parameters for a cost-benefit study with more details and innovation, in view of its application to full scale.
IRSA-CNR has carried out a first screening campaign for several emerging and non-emerging micropollutants (drugs, products of industrial and personal care, fragrances, etc.); IRSA will also perform micropollutant analysis on the samples provided during the experimentation.
CAP Group provides the San Giuliano Milanese East WWTP as the location of the pilot plant and the necessary electrical-hydraulic connections.

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