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Water Research
Vol. 52, 2014, Pages: 2028

Disinfection of biologically treated wastewater and prevention of biofouling by UV/electrolysis hybrid technology: Influence factors and limits for domestic wastewater reuse

Daniela Haaken, Thomas Dittmar, , Viktor Schmalz, Eckhard Worch

TU Dresden, Institute of Water Chemistry, 01062 Dresden, Germany.


Reuse of wastewater contributes significantly to an efficient and sustainable water usage. However, due to the presence of a multitude of pathogens (e.g. bacteria, viruses, worms, protozoa) in secondary effluents, disinfection procedures are indispensable. In decentralized wastewater treatment, UV irradiation represents one of the most common disinfection methods in addition to membrane processes and to a certain extent electrochemical procedures. However, the usage of UV disinfected secondary effluents for domestic (sanitary) or irrigation purposes bears a potential health risk due to the possible photo and dark repair of reversibly damaged bacteria.

Against this background, the application of the UV/electrolysis hybrid technology for disinfection and prevention of bacterial reactivation in biologically treated wastewater was investigated in view of relevant influence factors and operating limits. Furthermore, the influence of electrochemically generated total oxidants on the formation of biofilms on quartz glass surfaces was examined, since its preventive avoidance contributes to an enhanced operational safety of the hybrid reactor.

It was found that reactivation of bacteria in UV irradiated, biologically treated wastewater can be prevented by electrochemically produced total oxidants. In this regard, the influence of the initial concentration of the microbiological indicator organism Escherichia coli (E. coli) (9.3*102 2.2*105 per 100 mL) and the influence of total suspended solids (TSS) in the range of 11–75 mg L-1 was examined. The concentration of total oxidants necessary for prevention of bacterial regrowth increases linearly with the initial E. coli and TSS concentration. At an initial concentration of 933 E. coli per 100 mL, a total oxidants concentration of 0.4 mg L-1 is necessary to avoid photo reactivation (at 4200 Lux), whereas 0.67 mg L-1 is required if the E. coli concentration is enhanced by 2.4 log levels (cTSS = constant = 13 mg L-1). The prevention of dark repair is ensured with 25–50% lower concentration of total oxidants. An increase of the TSS concentration from 11 mg L-1 to 75 mg L-1 leads to a triplication of the need of total oxidants from 0.6 mg L-1 to 1.8 mg L-1 (3*105 E. coli per 100 mL).

The energy consumption of the hybrid reactor varies from 0.17 kWh m-3 to 0.94 kWh m-3 depending on the TSS concentration (11–75 mg L-1).

Furthermore, biofilm formation on quartz glass surfaces, of which the sleeves of UV lamps consist, can be suppressed by electrochemically produced total oxidants at a concentration of at least 1 mg L-1 which ensures high operational safety of the hybrid reactor combined with large maintenance intervals.

Keywords: Wastewater reclamation; Wastewater reuse; UV/electrolysis hybrid technology; Disinfection; Prevention of bacterial reactivation and biofouling. 

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