Assessment of the fate of organic micropollutants in novel wastewater treatment plant configurations through an empirical mechanistic model

Anton Taboada-Santos*, Chitta Ranjan Behera, Gürkan Sin, Krist V. Gernaey, Miguel Mauricio, Marta Carballa, Juan M. Lema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Novel wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are expected to be less energetically demanding than conventional ones. However, scarce information is available about the fate of organic micropollutants (OMPs) in these novel configurations. Therefore, the objective of this work is to assess the fate of OMPs in three novel WWTP configurations by using a plant-wide simulation that integrates multiple units. The difference among the three configurations is the organic carbon preconcentration technology: chemically enhanced primary treatment (CEPT), high-rate activated sludge (HRAS) combined or not with a rotating belt filter (RBF); followed by a partialnitritation (PN-AMX) unit. The simulation results show that the three selected novel configurations lead mainly to comparable OMPs removal efficiencies from wastewater, which were similar or lower, depending on the OMP, than those obtained in conventional WWTPs. However, the presence of hydrophobic OMPs in the digested sludge noticeably differs among the three configurations. Whereas the configuration based on sole HRAS to recover organic carbon leads to a lower presence of OMPs in digested sludge than the conventional WWTP, in the other two novel configurations this presence is noticeable higher. In conclusion, novel WWTP configurations do not improve the OMPs elimination from wastewater achieved in conventional ones, but the HRAS-based WWTP configuration leads to the lowest presence in digested sludge so it becomes the most efficient alternative.
Original languageEnglish
Article number137079
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Biotransformation
  • Chemically enhanced primary treatment
  • High-rate activated sludge
  • Plant-wide simulation
  • Rotating belt filters
  • Thermal hydrolysis

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