COMBI, continuous ozonation merged with biofiltration to study oxidative and microbial transformation of trace organic contaminants†
Investigating the biodegradation of ozonation products of trace organic contaminants is important to further elucidate their fate and to assess the efficiency of advanced water treatment processes. In this study, a continuous ozonation merged with biofiltration (COMBI) laboratory system based on an electrochemical ozone generation method was developed. The system can be operated continuously and resource-efficiently over several months by supplying ozone doses typically used for water treatment and providing stable conditions for the establishment of microbial communities in biofiltration columns. Five trace organic contaminants, acesulfame, carbamazepine, diclofenac, dimethylsulfamide and fluoxetine, were investigated under drinking water and secondary treated wastewater ozonation conditions. After an equilibration time of three weeks, biodegradable ozonation products, for example N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) and an acesulfame product, were removed in the filtration columns. Recalcitrant oxidation products such as trifluoroacetic acid (TFA) and two products of diclofenac either passed through the columns at unchanged concentration or were removed to a minor extent. The formation of a secondary biotransformation product from carbamazepine ozonation products could be also observed. In summary, the results show that the developed system is a valuable tool to investigate complex transformation processes of ozonation products during biofiltration. COMBI will simplify future ozonation-biotransformation studies and enable more comprehensive investigations with a wider range of contaminants under different conditions.