Removal of contaminants of emerging concern and Escherichia coli from effluent using an optimized electrochemical reactor

Ana Rita Ferreira*, Paula Guedes, Eduardo P. Mateus, Alexandra B. Ribeiro, Nazaré Couto

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) in wastewater are a matter of great importance as they have a huge environmental impact. This work investigated the electrochemical oxidation (EO) technology as an alternative tertiary treatment in wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) aiming to simultaneous remove CECs and Escherichia coli. Platinum titanium (Pt/Ti) and metal mixed oxide (MMO, RuO2–IrO2/Ti) electrode materials with different shapes (bar, mesh and circular mesh) were tested. The results obtained showed that removal rate not only depends on CECs structure and physicochemical characteristics, but electrode material and shape play a key role in the whole treatment process. Overall, the removal efficiency increased (20% to 50%) for the recalcitrant CECs when using MMO with the electrode characterized by a higher surface area with a circular-mesh as both anode and cathode. Varying the current intensity had a relatively minor effect on the yield of CECs removal. CECs removals were greater than 90% with simultaneous removal of E. coli within 2 hours. Overall, EO can be considered an eco-friendly process since no reagents were added and has a low estimated treatment cost of 1.1 €/m3.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110175
JournalJournal of Environmental Chemical Engineering
Issue number3
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

This work has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 778045; project CEMOWAS2 (SOE2/P5/F0505), co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (FEDER); and Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) through grant UIDB/04085/2020 (strategic project for CENSE). FCT is also acknowledged for N. Couto (CEECIND/04210/2017) and P. Guedes (CEECIND/01969/2020) contracts established under Individual Call to Scientific Employment Stimulus.


  • Contaminants of emerging concern
  • Pathogens
  • Electrode material
  • Wastewater treatment
  • Electrochemical reactor
  • Chemical oxidation


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