Predicting trace organic compound attenuation with spectroscopic parameters in powdered activated carbon processes

Austin D. Ziska, Minkyu Park, Tarun Anumol, Shane A. Snyder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The removal of trace organic compounds (TOrCs) is of growing interest in water research and society. Powdered activated carbon (PAC) has been proven to be an effective method of removal for TOrCs in water, with the degree of effectiveness depending on dosage, contact time, and activated carbon type. In this study, the attenuation of TOrCs in three different secondary wastewater effluents using four PAC materials was studied in order to elucidate the effectiveness and efficacy of PAC for TOrC removal. With the notable exception of hydrochlorothiazide, all 14 TOrC indicators tested in this study exhibited a positive correlation of removal rate with their log Dow values, demonstrating that the main adsorption mechanism was hydrophobic interaction. As a predictive model, the modified Chick-Watson model, often used for the prediction of microorganism inactivation by disinfectants, was applied. The applied model exhibited good predictive power for TOrC attenuation by PAC in wastewater. In addition, surrogate models based upon spectroscopic measurements including UV absorbance at 254 nm and total fluorescence were applied to predict TOrC removal by PAC. The surrogate model was found to provide an excellent prediction of TOrC attenuation for all combinations of water quality and PAC type included in this study. The success of spectrometric parameters as surrogates in predicting TOrC attenuation by PAC are particularly useful because of their potential application in real-time on-line sensor monitoring and process control at full-scale water treatment plants, which could lead to significantly reduced operator response times and PAC operational optimization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-171
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Indicator
  • Modeling
  • Powdered activated carbon (PAC)
  • Surrogate
  • Trace organic compounds (TOrC)
  • UV absorbance and fluorescence
  • Wastewater
  • Water reuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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