When microbial electrochemistry meets UV: the applicability to high-strength real pharmaceutical industry wastewater

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Wastewater from pharmaceutical and related industries contains many residual pharmaceutical components rich in color and high COD contents, which cannot be removed through the traditional wastewater treatment processes. Recently, microbial electrolysis ultraviolet cell (MEUC) process has shown its promising potential to remove recalcitrant organics because of its merits of wide pH range, iron-free, and without complications of iron sludge production. However, its application to the real pharmaceutical-rich industrial wastewater is still unknown. In this study, the MEUC process was validated with real ciprofloxacin-rich (6863.79 ± 2.21µgL-1) industrial wastewater (6840 ± 110mgL-1 of COD). The MEUC process achieved 100% removal of ciprofloxacin, 100% decolorization, and 99.1% removal of COD within 12, 60 and 30h, respectively, when it was operated at pH-controlled at 7.8, applied voltage of 0.6V, UV intensity of 10mWcm-2, and cathodic aeration velocity of 0.005mLmin-1 mL-1. Moreover, fluorescence analysis showed that protein- and humic-like substances in such wastewater were effectively removed, providing further evidence of its high treatment efficiency. Furthermore, eco-toxicity testing with luminescent bacteria Vibro Feschri confirmed that the treated effluent was utterly non-toxic. The results demonstrated the broad application potential of MEUC technology for treating industrial wastewater.
Original languageEnglish
Article number127151
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Pharmaceutical industry wastewater
  • Microbial electrolysis cell
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • UV
  • Toxicity


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