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Radiolytic decomposition of multi-class surfactants and their biotransformation products in sewage treatment plant effluents

AuthorsPetrovic, Mira CSIC ORCID; Gehringer, P.; Eschweiler, H.; Barceló, Damià CSIC ORCID
KeywordsAlkylphenol ethoxylates
Advanced oxidation processes
Electron beam irradiation
Wastewater treatment
Issue DateJan-2007
CitationChemosphere 66(1): 114-122 (2007)
AbstractElectron beam irradiation (EBI), as one of the most efficient advanced oxidation processes, was applied to the treatment of sewage treatment plant (STP) effluent, with the objective of evaluating the effectiveness of radiolytic decomposition of multi-class surfactants. Target compounds, included several high-volume surfactant groups, such as alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEOs) and their biotransformation products, linear alkylbenzene sulfonates (LAS), alkyl sulfates (AS), alkylether sulfates (AES), coconut diethanol amides (CDEA), alcohol ethoxylates (AEO) and polyethylene glycols (PEGs). EBI treatment of STP effluent (total concentration of APEO-derived compounds 265 μg l-1 being APE(2)C the most abundant by-degradation products) resulted in efficient decomposition of all alkylphenolic compounds; elimination of 94% longer ethoxy chain nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEO, n(EO) = 3–15) was obtained when 3 kGy were applied. Slightly less efficient decomposition of short ethoxy chain oligomers (NPEO1 and NPEO2) was observed, resulting in disappearance of about 80% of the initially present compounds. LC-MS analysis of treated wastewater suggested that the mechanism of EBI degradation of APEOs is a combination of two parallel pathways: a progressive shortening and oxidation of the ethoxy chain, which resulted in a formation of short ethoxy chain oligomers and APECs and central fission that resulted in formation of PEGs. Decomposition of APECs at 1 kGy initially yielded APs, which were subsequently eliminated applying higher radiation doses. With a radiation dose of 2 kGy about 95% of NPE(1)C and 97% of NPE(2)C were decomposed. Similar elimination rates were obtained for octylphenolic compounds. Radiolytic treatment applied was also very effective in removing PEGs formed as by-products from APEO degradation, as well as in decomposing other surfactants, such as linear LAS, AS and AES.
Description9 pages, 6 figures, 3 tables.-- PMID: 16808959 [PubMed].-- Online version available on Jun 30, 2006.
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