The use of RO to remove emerging micropollutants following CAS/UF or MBR treatment of municipal wastewater Academic Article uri icon


  • The removal of various organic micropollutants (OMPs), including six antibiotics (ERY, ROX, CLA, SMX, SMZ, and TMP), three pharmaceuticals (ibuprofen, salicylic acid, and diclofenac), one industrial product (BPA), and one hormone (cholesterol), was investigated in two pilot plants treating the same raw sewage of the Tel-Aviv WWTP. The effluent production by CAS-UF was 45 m3/h while that of MBR was 40 L/h. Each system's effluent constituted the feed for its RO, which comprised three RO steps after the CAS/UF and a semi-batch RO system after the MBR. Despite significant molecular differences between the selected OMPs, high removal rates were achieved after the RO stage (> 99% for macrolides, pharmaceuticals, cholesterol, and BPA, 95% for diclofenac, and > 93% removal of sulfonamides). However, low antibiotics concentrations and 28–223 ng/L residuals of ibuprofen, diclofenac, salicylic acid, cholesterol, and BPA in the MBR/RO and CAS-UF/RO permeates showed that although RO is an efficient removal solution, it cannot serve as an absolute barrier to OMPs. Therefore, additional treatment techniques should be considered to be incorporated aside the RO to ensure complete removal of such substances.Research highlights► The fate of several OMPs was tested in two pilot plants: CAS-UF/RO and MBR/RO. ► Membrane, molecule and background characteristics affect the RO removal mechanism. ► The lower the OMP concentration in the raw sewage, the lower its removal. ► OMPs removal in CAS/UF and MBR systems is limited, and can be improved significantly by RO. ► RO is highly effective in OMPs removal but cannot serve as an absolute barrier.

publication date

  • January 1, 2011