Emerging Contaminants Summit

Spring 2020

guntenUrs von Gunten
Head of Competence Center for Drinking Water, Swiss Federal Institute for Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag)
Professor, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) 

Urs von Gunten has a joint appointment between Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) where he is a full professor. He is an internationally recognized expert on oxidation processes and has co-authored one book and more than 200 publications. He has received several international awards among them the distinction of being listed as a Thompson Reuter Highly Cited Researcher in 2014 and 2015. Besides his academic activities, he collaborates regularly with practitioners from the water sector; from 2004-2008 he was the head of the trans-disciplinary project “Water supply for the 21st century” and from 2013-2016 he was the head of the trans-disciplinary project “Regional Water Supply Basel-Country”, one of the Swiss cantons (states). In the last two decades he was strongly involved in the application of ozone for enhanced municipal wastewater treatment for micropollutant abatement, which is now implemented in Switzerland.


Oxidative Processes for Water Treatment: Options and Limitations

The presence of micropollutants in water resources and the urban water cycle from many sources such as agriculture, municipal wastewater and industry has raised concerns about the eco- and human toxicity of these compounds. The options for the reduction of the micropollutant load are manifold and range from source control (e.g., stricter regulations) to end of pipe solutions (wastewater and drinking water treatment). Several process options are availbale for the abatement of micropollutants in drinking water and/or wastewater such as soil passage, adsorption (e.g., activated carbon), removal by tight membranes (nanofiltration, reverse osmosis) and oxidation.

This talk will focus on oxidation processes where 4 aspects need to be considered for micropollutant abatement: (i) reaction kinetics, which control the efficiency of the process, (ii) elucidation of the formation of transfomation products by experimental and theoretical approaches, (iii) formation of oxidation by-products from the matrix (e.g., bromate, nitrosamine), (iv) biological effects after oxidation, resulting from transformation products and/or oxidation by-products.

The talk will demonstrate these aspects with examples from oxidative drinking water and wastewater treatment and also discuss a novel test system, which allows operators to decide, whether or not an oxidation process is meaningful for a particular water.

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