KWR Water Research Institute
  • Nieuwegein, Utrecht, Netherlands
Recent publications
Background Safe and clean drinking water is essential for human life. Persistent, mobile and toxic (PMT) substances and/or very persistent and very mobile (vPvM) substances are an important group of substances for which additional measures to protect water resources may be needed to avoid negative environmental and human health effects. PMT/vPvM substances do not sufficiently biodegrade in the environment, they can travel long distances with water and are toxic (those that are PMT substances) to the environment and/or human health. PMT/vPvM substance research and regulation is arguably in its infancy and in order to get in control of these substances the following (non-exhaustive list of) knowledge gaps should to be addressed: environmental occurrence; the suitability of currently available analytical methods; the effectiveness and availability of treatment technologies; the ability of regional governance and industrial stewardship to contribute to safe drinking water while supporting innovation; the ways in which policies and regulations can be used most effectively to govern these substances; and, the identification of safe and sustainable alternatives. Methods The work is the outcome of the third PMT workshop, held in March 2021, that brought together diverse scientists, regulators, NGOs, and representatives from the water sector and the chemical sector, all concerned with protecting the quality of our water resources. The online workshop was attended by over 700 people. The knowledge gaps above were discussed in the presentations given and the attendees were invited to provide their opinions about knowledge gaps related to PMT/vPvM substance research and regulation. Results Strategies to closing the knowledge, technical and practical gaps to get in control of PMT/vPvM substances can be rooted in the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability Towards a Toxic Free Environment from the European Commission, as well as recent advances in the research and industrial stewardship. Key to closing these gaps are: (i) advancing remediation and removal strategies for PMT/vPvM substances that are already in the environment, however this is not an effective long-term strategy; (ii) clear and harmonized definitions of PMT/vPvM substances across diverse European and international legislations; (iii) ensuring wider availability of analytical methods and reference standards; (iv) addressing data gaps related to persistence, mobility and toxicity of chemical substances, particularly transformation products and those within complex substance mixtures; and (v) advancing monitoring and risk assessment tools for stewardship and regulatory compliance. The two most effective ways to get in control were identified to be source control through risk governance efforts, and enhancing market incentives for alternatives to PMT/vPvM substances by using safe and sustainable by design strategies.
Sufficient freshwater is needed for water dependent sectors such as agriculture, nature, drinking water, and industry. However, even in low-lying, flood prone countries like the Netherlands, climate change, weather extremes, economic growth, urbanization, land subsidence and increased food production will make it more complex to guarantee sufficient freshwater for all sectors. Furthermore, the frequency and amplitude of extremely dry and wet weather conditions is expected to increase. The current Dutch water management system is not designed to anticipate these extremes. Over the last decades, drained Dutch agricultural fields, land consolidation and urbanization resulted in declining groundwater tables. Additionally, the fresh water demand of different sectors (agriculture, industry, drinking water) increased, causing an increased pressure on the regional groundwater system. As a consequence, the annual groundwater table in sandy soil areas dropped over time with the effect that, nowadays, fresh water is becoming scarce in dry periods. In this paper we provide insight in the shifting water management strategy in the Netherlands (1950–2020), with the corresponding drainage systems, developing from conventional drainage (approx. 1950–1990), to controlled drainage (1990’s onwards), climate adaptive drainage (2010 onwards) and subirrigation systems (2018 onwards). Furthermore, we provide insight in the effect of subirrigation on groundwater levels and crop yields, based on both international literature and measurements of Dutch field pilots. Although subirrigation can contribute to improved soil moisture conditions for crop growth on field scale, we show that the water volume needed for subirrigation can be large and could put a significant pressure on the available regional water sources. Therefore, efficient and responsible use of the available external water sources for subirrigation (e.g. surface water, treated waste water, or groundwater) is required. Finally, the implementation of controlled drainage with subirrigation asks for correct implementation in the regional balance: it requires an integral, catchment-wide approach.
Water bodies in densely populated lowland areas are often impacted by multiple stressors. At these multi-stressed sites, it remains challenging to quantify the contribution of contaminated sediments. This study, therefore, aimed to elucidate the contribution of sediment contamination in 16 multi-stressed drainage ditches throughout the Netherlands. To this end an adjusted TRIAD framework was applied, where 1) contaminants and other variables in the sediment and the overlying water were measured, 2) whole-sediment laboratory bioassays were performed using larvae of the non-biting midge Chironomus riparius, and 3) the in situ benthic macroinvertebrate community composition was determined. It was hypothesized that the benthic macroinvertebrate community composition would respond to all jointly present stressors in both water and sediment, whereas the whole-sediment bioassays would only respond to the stressors present in the sediment. The benthic macroinvertebrate community composition was indeed related to multiple stressors in both water and sediment. Taxa richness was positively correlated with the presence of PO4-P in the water, macrophyte cover and some pesticides. Evenness, the number of Trichoptera families and the SPEARpesticides were positively correlated to the C:P ratios in the sediment, whilst negative correlations were observed with various contaminants in both the water and sediment. The whole-sediment bioassays with C. riparius positively related to the nutrient content of the sediment, whereas no negative relations to the sediment-associated contaminants were observed, even though the lowered SPEARpesticides index indicated contaminant effects in the field. Therefore, it was concluded that sediment contamination was identified as one of the various stressors that potentially drove the benthic macroinvertebrate community composition in the multi-stressed drainage ditches, but that nutrients may have masked the adverse effects caused by low and diverse sediment contaminants on C. riparius in the bioassays.
Aim To quantify the responses of alpha and beta diversity to multivariate gradients, incorporating variation in environmental and management variability in coastal dune slacks. Location United Kingdom dune slacks. Methods Plant community composition, plant nutrient status and soil characteristics were measured for 164 quadrats in 41 dune slacks across 12 coastal sand dune systems. Data were collated on climate and atmospheric deposition. Hydrological regimes at daily resolution were modelled and calibrated using daily‐to‐monthly site measurements, from which we calculated quadrat‐level hydrological metrics. Alpha diversity (richness, Shannon diversity and Pielou's evenness) metrics and beta diversity (turnover and nestedness) for species and genera were calculated across three spatial levels from sand dune system (highest) to dune slack to quadrat (lowest). Results Diversity patterns depended on the spatial and taxonomic level considered. At smaller spatial levels (between dune slacks and between quadrats), alpha and beta diversity varied along gradients driven by soil characteristics, water table depth and atmospheric deposition. At larger spatial levels (between sand dune systems), patterns of beta diversity were a consequence of plant nutrient status. There was little variability in alpha diversity along this same gradient, with only small changes in Pielou's species evenness. Patterns at a coarser taxonomic level (genus) mirrored those at the species level. Main conclusion We show that patterns of variation in plant diversity are dependent on the spatial level considered, but taxonomic level made little difference in understanding these patterns. Therefore, if we do not consider patterns across different spatial levels, important environmental and management drivers could be missed. The high biodiversity value and degree of threat to these European protected habitats makes such understanding invaluable for their conservation.
Electrochemical ferrous iron (Fe²⁺) wastewater treatment is gaining momentum for treating municipal wastewater due to its decreasing costs, environmental friendliness and capacity for removal of a wide range of contaminants. Disinfection by iron electrocoagulation (Fe-EC) has been occasionally reported in full scale industrial applications, yet controversy remains regarding its underlying elimination mechanisms and kinetics. In this study, it was demonstrated that substantial inactivation can be achieved for Escherichia coli WR1 (5 log10) and somatic coliphage ΦX174 (2–3 log10). Electrochemically produced Fe²⁺ yielded similar inactivation as chemical Fe²⁺. Reactive oxygen species (ROS)-quenching experiments with TEMPOL confirmed that E. coli inactivation was related to the production of Fenton-like intermediates during Fe²⁺ oxidation. The observed E. coli disinfection kinetics could be mathematically related to Fe-EC current intensity using a Chick-Watson-like expression, in which the amperage is surrogate for the disinfectant's concentration. We hereby show that it is possible to mathematically predict disinfection based on applied Fe dosage and dosage speed. Phage ΦX174 inactivation could not be described in a similar way because at higher Fe dosages (>20 mg/l), little additional inactivation was observed. Also, ROS-quencher TEMPOL did not completely inhibit phage ΦX174 removal, suggesting that additional pathways are relevant for its elimination.
Irrigation with surface water carrying plant pathogens poses a risk for agriculture. Managed aquifer recharge enhances fresh water availability while simultaneously it may reduce the risk of plant diseases by removal of pathogens during aquifer passage. We compared the transport of three plant pathogenic bacteria with Escherichia coli WR1 as reference strain in saturated laboratory column experiments filled with quartz sand, or sandy aquifer sediments. E. coli showed the highest removal, followed by Pectobacterium carotovorum, Dickeya solani and Ralstonia solanacearum. Bacterial and non-reactive tracer breakthrough curves were fitted with Hydrus-1D and compared with colloid filtration theory (CFT). Bacterial attachment to fine and medium aquifer sand under anoxic conditions was highest with attachment rates of max. katt1 = 765 day-1 and 355 day-1, respectively. Attachment was the least to quartz sand under oxic conditions (katt1 = 61 day-1). In CFT, sticking efficiencies were higher in aquifer than in quartz sand but there was no differentiation between fine and medium aquifer sand. Overall removal ranged between < 6.8 log10 m− 1 in quartz and up to 40 log10 m− 1 in fine aquifer sand. Oxygenation of the anoxic aquifer sediments for two weeks with oxic influent water decreased the removal. The results highlight the potential of natural sand filtration to sufficiently remove plant pathogenic bacteria during aquifer storage.
Peatland degradation is tightly connected to hydrological changes and microbial metabolism. To better understand these metabolism processes, more information is needed on how microbial communities and substrate cycling are affected by changing hydrological regimes. These activities should be imprinted in stable isotope bulk values (δ ¹⁵N, δ ¹³C) due to specific isotopic fractionation by different microbial communities, their metabolic pathways and nutrient sources. We hypothesize that stable isotope values and microbial abundance are correlated and act as indicators of different hydrological regimes. We sampled an East–West transect across European fens in 14 areas and conducted a stable isotope (δ ¹³C, δ ¹⁵N) and membrane fatty acid (mFA) analysis. Within each area an undrained, drained and rewetted site was selected. Rewetted sites were separated based on when rewetting occurred. We found differences in the upper layers of all sites in microbial-derived mFAs and stable isotope values corresponding to hydrological regimes. The highest and lowest quantities of microbial-derived mFAs were measured in undrained and drained sites, respectively. Fungal-derived mFAs were especially lower in drained sites. Simultaneously, δ¹⁵N stable isotope values were highest in drained sites. In addition, stable isotope values and microbial-derived mFAs showed distinct depth trends. In undrained sites stable isotopes values slightly increased with depth. In drained sites, δ¹⁵N values decreased downwards, whereas δ¹³C values increased. Overall microbial-derived mFAs decreased with depth. These patterns presumably result from anoxic conditions and high peat recalcitrance in the deeper layers. In sites with short time of rewetting, the microbial-derived mFAs and stable isotope values were similar to values of drained sites, while with increasing rewetting time values shifted to those of undrained sites. We conclude that biomarkers indicate that stable isotope values reflect specific microbial metabolic processes, which differ with hydrological regimes, and thus could indicate both drainage and rewetting in fens.
Background Although drinking water in the Netherlands is generally accepted as safe, public concern about health risks of long-term intake still exist. Objective The aim was to explore associations between drinking water quality for nitrate, water hardness, calcium and magnesium and causes-of-death as related to cardiovascular diseases amongst which coronary heart disease and colorectal cancer. Methods We used national administrative databases on cause-specific mortality, personal characteristics, residential history, social economic indicators, air quality and drinking water quality for parameters specified by the EU Drinking Water Directive. We put together a cohort of 6,998,623 persons who were at least 30 years old on January 1 2008 and lived for at least five years on the same address. The average drinking water concentration over 2000-2010 at the production stations were used as exposure indicators. We applied age stratified Cox proportional hazards models. Results Magnesium was associated with a reduced risk for mortality due to coronary heart diseases: HR of 0.95 (95% CI: 0.90, 0.99) per 10 mg/L increase. For mortality due to cardiovascular diseases, a 100 mg/L increase in calcium was associated with a HR of 1.08 (95% CI: 1.03, 1.13) and an increase of 2.5 mmol/L of water hardness with a HR of 1.06 (95% CI: 1.01, 1.10). The results show an elevated risk for coronary heart disease mortality at calcium concentrations below 30 mg/L, but over the whole exposure range no exposure response relation was observed. For other combinations of drinking water quality parameters and cause-specific mortality studied, no statistical significant associations were identified. Conclusion We identified in this explorative study a protective effect of magnesium for the risk of mortality to coronary heart disease. Also we found an increased risk of mortality due to cardiovascular disease associated with the concentration of calcium and the water hardness in drinking water.
Purpose Paludiculture (crop cultivation in wet peatlands) can prevent carbon and nutrient losses while enabling biomass production. As vegetation in rewetted peatlands is often nitrogen (N) limited, input of N-rich water may promote biomass production and nutrient removal. However, it is unclear how N loading and soil characteristics affect biomass yield, nutrient dynamics, and ecosystem service provisioning in paludiculture. Methods We studied the influence of N loading (0, 50, 150, and 450 kg N ha⁻¹ yr⁻¹) on biomass production and nutrient sequestration of Typha latifolia (broadleaf cattail) and Phragmites australis (common reed) in mesocosms containing rewetted agricultural peat soil (intensively managed, near-neutral (IN)). To assess the interaction with soil characteristics T. latifolia was also grown on an extensively managed, acid (EA) peat soil. Results N loading stimulated biomass production and nutrient uptake of both T. latifolia and P. australis, with T. latifolia showing the most pronounced response. Biomass yield of T. latifolia was higher on IN soil than on EA soil due to the higher pH, despite lower nutrient availability. N was largely taken up by the vegetation, whereas bare soils showed N accumulation in pore and surface water, and 80% loss through denitrification. Soil phosphorus was efficiently taken up by T. latifolia, especially at high N loads. Conclusion N loading in paludiculture with T. latifolia and P. australis boosts biomass production while kick-starting peatland ecosystem services including nutrient removal. Nutrient availability and pH appear to be decisive soil characteristics when it comes to crop selection.
The aperiodic changes in the quantity and community of planktonic and particle-associated bacteria have hampered the understanding and management of microbiological water quality in drinking water distribution systems. In this study, online sampling was combined with the microbial fingerprint-based SourceTracker2 to capture and trace the spatiotemporal variations in planktonic and particle-associated bacteria in an unchlorinated distribution system. The results showed that spatially, the particle load significantly increased, while in contrast, the quantity of particle-associated bacteria decreased sharply from the treatment plant to the distribution network. Similar to the trend of particle-associated bacterial diversity, the number of observed OTUs first slightly decreased from the treatment plant to the transportation network and then sharply increased from the transportation network to the distribution network. The SourceTracker2 results revealed that the contribution of particle-associated bacteria from the treatment plant decreased along the distribution distance. The spatial results indicate the dominant role of sedimentation of particles from the treatment plant, while the observed increases in particles and the associated bacteria mainly originated from the distribution network, which were confirmed directly by the increased contributions of loose deposits and biofilm. Temporally, the daily peaks of particle-associated bacterial quantity, observed OTU number, and contributions of loose deposits and biofilms were captured during water demand peaks (e.g., 18-21 h). The temporal results reveal clear linkages between the distribution system harboring bacteria (e.g., within loose deposits and biofilms) and the planktonic and particle-associated bacteria flowing through the distribution system, which are dynamically connected and interact. This study highlights that the spatiotemporal variations in planktonic and particle-associated bacteria are valuable and unneglectable for the widely on-going sampling campaigns required by water quality regulations and/or drinking water microbiological studies.
Monitoring of microplastics in environmental samples is relevant to the scientific world, as well as to environmental agencies and water authorities, in particular considering increasing efforts to decrease emissions and the growing concern of governments and the public. Therefore, rapid accurate detection and identification of microplastics including polymers, despite their degradation in the environment, is crucial. The degradation has a significant impact on the infrared spectra of the microplastics and can impede the identification process. This work presents a novel approach to addressing the problem of identification of weathered microplastics. A quantum cascade laser (LDIR) was used to record the infrared spectra of various polymeric particles (81,291 individual particles). Using a combination of pristine and weathered particles, two supervised machine learning (ML) models, namely Subspace k-Nearest Neighbor (Sub-kNN) and Boosted Decision Tree (BDT), were trained to recognize the spectrum characteristics of labeled particles and then used to identify unlabeled samples, with an identification accuracy of 89.7% and 77.1% using 10-fold cross validation. About 90% of the samples could be identified via the Sub-kNN or BDT models. Subsequently, a non-supervised ML model, namely, Density-based Spatial Clustering of Applications with Noise (DBSCAN), was used to cluster samples which could not be labeled from the supervised ML model. This enabled the detection of additional subgroups of microplastics. Manual labelling can then be carried out on a selection of spectra per group (e.g., centroids of each cluster), hence accelerating the identification process and allowing to add new labeled samples to the initial supervised ML. Although expert efforts are still needed, the proposed method greatly lowers labeling efforts by using the combined supervised and unsupervised learning models. In the future, the use of deep neural networks could further boost the implementation of these kinds of approaches for polymer and microplastic identification in environmental settings.
Powdered activated carbon (PAC) is a promising technology to reduce organic micropollutants (OMPs) in drinking water treatment plants and combined with biological treatment processes such as rapid sand filters (RSFs), has the potential to remove a broad range of OMPs during water treatment. However, the removal of OMPs by a combination of two treatments (PAC-RSF) is not fully understood. 49 OMPs were spiked in PAC followed by RSF pilot plant treatment and the effluent was measured after 1, 4 and 7 day(s). Also, in a separate experiment 29 OMPs (out of 49) were dosed into the RSF column to assess the removal of OMPs by just RSF. Statistical analyses were performed and the OMPs were classified according to their charge and hydrophobicity. The results showed that OMPs were removed at the highest percentage after the first 24 h of dosing. The highest removal was observed for the neutral and hydrophobic compounds (80.0%-99.5%). The removal of neutral and hydrophilic compounds varied (0.14%-98.5%) depending on the possibility of forming π-π interactions and hydrogen bonds. Electrostatic repulsion between anionic OMPs and negatively charged PAC led to a decrease in the removal of anionic compounds. In contrast, electrostatic attraction led to an increase in the removal of cationic OMPs. Regarding OMPs removal by RSF, some compounds were removed by the sand filter depending partly on their physical-chemical properties and more dominantly on their functional groups. By comparing the OMPs removal by PAC-RSF with RSF, it was possible to determine the contribution of biological processes in the sand filter in the removal of some OMPs.
The anaerobic degradation of aromatic hydrocarbons in a plume originating from a Pintsch gas tar-DNAPL zone was investigated using molecular, isotopic- and microbial analyses. Benzene concentrations diminished at the relatively small meter scale dimensions of the nitrate reducing plume fringe. The ratio of benzene to toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes and naphthalene (BTEXN) in the fringe zone compared to the plume zone, indicated relatively more loss of benzene in the fringe zone than TEXN. This was substantiated by changes in relative concentrations of BTEXN, and multi-element compound specific isotope analysis for δ²H and δ¹³C. This was supported by the presence of (abcA) genes, indicating the presumed benzene carboxylase enzyme in the nitrate-reducing plume fringe. Biodegradation of most hydrocarbon contaminants at iron reducing conditions in the plume core, appears to be quantitatively of greater significance due to the large volume of the plume core, rather than relatively faster biodegradation under nitrate reducing conditions at the smaller volume of the plume fringe. Contaminant concentration reductions by biodegradation processes were shown to vary distinctively between the source, plume (both iron-reducing) and fringe (nitrate-reducing) zones of the plume. High anaerobic microbial activity was detected in the plume zone as well as in the dense non aqueous phase liquid (DNAPL) containing source zone. Biodegradation of most, if not all, other water-soluble Pintsch gas tar aromatic hydrocarbon contaminants occur at the relatively large dimensions of the anoxic plume core. The highest diversity and concentrations of metabolites were detected in the iron-reducing plume core, where the sum of parent compounds of aromatic hydrocarbons was greater than 10 mg/L. The relatively high concentrations of metabolites suggest a hot spot for anaerobic degradation in the core of the plume downgradient but relatively close to the DNAPL containing source zone.
Larger well diameters allow higher groundwater abstraction rates. But particularly for the construction of wells at greater depth, it may be more cost‐efficient to only expand the borehole in the target aquifer. However, current drilling techniques for unconsolidated formations are limited by their expansion factors (<2) and diameters (<1000 mm). Therefore, we developed a new technique aiming to expand borehole diameters at depth in a controlled manner using a low‐pressure water jet perpendicular to the drilling direction and extendable by means of a pivoting arm. During a first field test, the borehole diameter was expanded 2.6 fold from 600 mm to 1570 mm at a depth of 53.5 to 68 m and equipped with a well screen to create an expanded diameter gravel well (EDGW). In keeping with the larger diameter, the volume flux per m screen length was two times higher than conventional 860 mm diameter wells at the site in the subsequent 3 year production period. Although borehole clogging was slower on a volumetric basis and similar when normalized to borehole wall area, rehabilitation of particle clogging at the borehole wall was more challenging due to the thickness of the gravel pack. While jetting the entire borehole wall before backfilling holds promise to remove filter cake and thus limit particle clogging, we found that a second borehole (expanded 4.1 fold to 2460 mm) collapsed during jetting, Overall, the EDGW technique has potential to make the use of deeper unconsolidated aquifers economically (more) feasible, although further understanding of the borehole stability and rehabilitation is required to assess its wider applicability.
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) practices are important factors in preventing diarrhoea. The objectives of this study were to assess the behaviour of the mothers of under-five children with regard to WASH practices, water quality, incidence rate of diarrhoea and the WASH predictors responsible for diarrhoea and water contamination, using multivariate regression analysis. The present study was conducted in households (n=55) having under-five children (n=88) based in an urban slum pocket of Mumbai city, India. Key satisfactory practices included (percent household following them in parenthesis) boiling of water (63.6%) and daily cleaning of storage containers (74.5%). Households followed unsatisfactory practices during water transfer (72.7%), handwashing (58.2%), defaecation location (96.4%) and disposal of children's faeces (98.2%). The incidence rate of diarrhoea among <5-year-old children was 4.7 diarrhoeal episodes/100 child months. 86 and 39.7% of untreated and boiled drinking water samples had coliforms, while 12.5 and 5.1% had E. coli, respectively. Untreated drinking water and water sourced from shared taps were significantly associated with the incidence of diarrhoea (p<0.05), and inconsistent in-house treatment of water was significantly associated with the presence of coliforms in drinking water (p<0.05). The study results suggest that WASH advocacy and an improvement in sanitation-related infrastructure for the slum population can reduce diarrhoeal incidence.
Plain Language Summary The impacts of historical expansion of agricultural irrigation on local precipitation are robust and profound, but whether irrigation can change precipitation in remote areas is poorly understood, and governing mechanisms responsible for the remote links generally have not been rigorously analyzed. Our numerical experiments with an earth‐system model suggest that irrigation in the Middle East and South Asia may enhance rainfall in a large portion of the Sahel‐Sudan Savanna (SSS). The magnitude of the enhancement is comparable to the suppression of precipitation induced by other anthropogenic climate drivers such as greenhouse emissions. The enhancement arises through a change in the large‐scale patterns of atmospheric moisture and temperature from the Sahara Desert to the tropical rainforests. Growth of remote irrigation should be considered as a possible factor affecting the risk of drought and famine in the SSS such as that experienced in the 1970s–1980s. Future regional water security in the SSS could be affected by distant water management‐groundwater depletion in South Asia and the pace of rehabilitation of war‐damaged irrigation infrastructure in the Tigris‐Euphrates valley.
In the past two decades, a number of studies on arsenic (As) occurrence in the environment, particularly in surface and groundwater systems have reported high levels of As in several countries of the African continent. Arsenic concentrations up to 10000 μg/L have been reported in surface water systems, caused by human activities such as mining, industrial effluents, and municipal solid waste disposals. Similarly, concentrations up to 1760 μg/L have been reported in many groundwater systems which account for approximately 60% of drinking water demand in rural areas of Africa. Naturally, As is mobilized in groundwater systems through weathering processes and dissolution of As bearing minerals such as sulfides (pyrite, arsenopyrite, and chalcopyrite), iron oxides, other mineralized granitic and gneissic rocks, and climate change factors that trigger the release of As in groundwater. Recently, public health studies in some African countries such as Tanzania and Ethiopia have reported high levels of As in human tissues such as toenails as well as in urine among pregnant women exposed to As contaminated groundwater, respectively. In urine, concentrations up to 150 μg/L were reported among pregnant women depending on As contaminated drinking water within Geita gold mining areas in the north-western part of Tanzania. However, the studies on As occurrence, and mobilization in African water systems, as well as related health effects are limited, due to the lack of awareness. The current study aims to create awareness of As contamination in Africa and its removal using locally available materials. The few studies on As removal reported in Africa were at laboratory scale which makes it difficult to evaluate its efficiency in the real field treatment plants.
This study explores the synergy between photocatalytic oxidation and membrane filtration using a photocatalytic membrane. Titanium dioxide coated alumina membranes were fabricated and tested in a customized Photocatalytic Membrane Reactor (PMR) module. The discoloration of methylene blue (MB), 3.2 mg.L⁻¹ in an aqueous solution, was evaluated in dead-end filtration mode. A simple 1D analytic transport and surface reaction model was used based on advection and diffusion, containing intrinsic retention by the membrane and reaction kinetics to predict the permeate concentration. The discoloration of MB by the photocatalytic membrane could be well described by a single retention and reaction rate constant (Damköhler number) for fluxes from 1.6 to 16.2 L.m⁻².h⁻¹. The model furthermore indicates the potential synergy between membrane retention, which leads to increased concentration, and accompanying photocatalytic conversion, at the membrane surface.
It was widely acknowledged that dissolved organic matter (DOM) in natural water has ubiquitous competitiveness against organic micropollutants (OMPs) during adsorption onto activated carbon. However, some (model) low molecular weight organics have been reported to adsorb onto activated carbon, but were not competitive against co-adsorbates. The objective of this study is to identify which adsorbable DOM fractions in natural water contribute to the DOM competitiveness, and what the impact of the OMP adsorbability and initial OMP concentration is on this competitiveness. We, therefore, disassociated the adsorption of DOM fractions and OMPs (carbamazepine, caffeine and sulfamethoxazole) using a two-stage adsorption procedure, removing various adsorbable DOM fractions with powdered activated carbon pretreatment and then unraveling the competitiveness against OMPs of the remaining DOM. Our results demonstrated that DOM competition was not ubiquitous for all adsorbable fractions in natural water, and ∼25% of the adsorbable DOM was not competitive. The poorly adsorbable DOM was shown to be a non-competitive co-adsorbate, and its complexation even elevated the adsorption capacity of one of the OMPs (carbamazepine). The amount of DOM competitors increased for weaker adsorbable OMPs, and at higher initial OMP concentrations. The variability in DOM competition, differentiated by DOM adsorbability, has advanced the understanding of DOM competition, from ubiquitous competition to variable roles (varying competitiveness/complementary adsorption) of differently adsorbable DOM fractions during OMP adsorption.
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118 members
E. J. M. Blokker
  • drinking water distribution
Niels Hartog
  • Water Systems & Technology Research Group
Groningenhaven 7, 3433 PE, Nieuwegein, Utrecht, Netherlands
Head of institution
Dragan Savic