Bio-electro-Fenton is emerging as an alternative technology for the efficient and cost-effective removal of refractory micropollutants. Though promising, there are still several challenges that limit its wide application, including acidic operating conditions (pH at 2-3), the addition of supporting electrolytes (e.g., Na2SO4), and the issue of iron sludge generation. To address these challenges, a novel hybrid persulfate-photo-bioelectrochemical (PPBEC) system is proposed to remove model micropollutants (carbamazepine and clorfibric acid), from secondary effluent at low persulfate (PS) dosage and neutral pH. The effect of crucial operating parameters on the process was studied, including input voltage, cathodic aeration velocity, and PS dose. Under optimal conditions (0.6 V, 0.005 mL min-1 mL-1 and 1 mM), the PPBEC system achieved approx. 0.56-1.71 times greater micropollutant removal with 93% lower energy consumption when compared to the individual processes (UV/PS and PBEC). The improved performance was attributed to a faster production of sulfate radicals by UV irradiation, hydrogen peroxide activation and single-electron reduction, and hydroxyl radicals generated by UV irradiation. Furthermore, the transformation products of carbamazepine and clorfibric acid were identified and the probable pathways are proposed. Finally, the ecotoxicity of the PPBEC treated effluent was assessed by using Vibrio Fischeri, which exhibited a non-toxic effect.
- Persulfate-enhanced photo-bioelectrochemical system
- Synergistic effects
- Refractory micropollutants