Novel operation of granular activated carbon contactors for removal of disinfection byproducts precursors
Granular activated carbon (GAC) is effectively used to remove natural organic matter (NOM) and to assist in the removal of disinfection byproducts (DBPs) and their precursors. However, operation of GAC is cost- and labor-intensive due to frequent media replacement. Optimizing the use of GAC is necessary to ensure treatment efficiency while reducing costs. This dissertation presents four strategies to reduce improve GAC usage while reducing formation of DBPs. The first part of this work adopts Rapid Small Scale Tests (RSSCTs) to evaluate removal of molecular weight fractions of NOM, characterized using size exclusion chromatography (SECDOC). Total trihalomethanes (TTHM), haloacetic acids (HAA5) and haloacetonitriles (HAN) formation were quantified after treatment with GAC. Low MW NOM was removed preferentially in the early bed volumes, up until exhaustion of available adsorption sites. DBP formation potential lowered with DOC removal. Chlorination prior to GAC is investigated in the second part of this work as a strategy to increase removal of NOM and DBP precursors. Results showed lower TTHM formation in the effluent of the GAC treatment when pre-chlorination was adopted, meaning this strategy could help optimize and extend the bed life if GAC filters. The third part of this work investigates in-situ GAC regeneration as an alternative to recover adsorption capacity of field-spent GAC that could potentially offer new modes of operation for water treatment facilities while savng costs with reactivation of spent GAC in an external facility. Field-spent GACs were treated with different oxidant solutions and recovery in adsorption capacity was evaluated for NOM and for two micro pollutants. Recovery of GAC adsorption capacity was not satisfactory for most of conditions evaluated. This indicates that in-situ GAC regeneration could be more effective when the adsorbates are present at high concentrations. Lastly, this work investigates the impact of low molecular weight polyDADMAC on N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) formation. Water treatment facilities rely on polyDADMAC as a coagulant aid to comply with NOM removal and turbidity requirements. Since polymer-derived NDMA precursors are not removed by GAC, it is essential to optimize the use and synthesis of polyDADMAC to reduce NDMA precursors during water treatment.