A team of LEQUIA researchers led by Dr. Rafael González Olmos has developed new materials for the treatment of water polluted with petrol compounds. The work has been published in the prestigious journal Environmental Science & Technology and is the result of the collaboration between LEQUIA and UFZ-Environmental Research Centre in Germany.
Pollution of water by petrol spillage is a matter of concern. Some petrol compounds are highly water soluble, have low biodegradability, can have toxic effects, and can alter organoleptic properties of water intended for human consumption. This is the case for methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), which has replaced lead as petrol additive since the 1970s. Content of MTBE in water has significantly increased in the past few decades, especially in sensitive areas or as a result of petrol spillages and discharges. For this reason, removal of MTBE is being studied by many research groups worldwide.
As biological treatments are not sufficiently effective, physic-chemical processes like adsorption are applied. Concretely, activated carbon has been used for the treatment of water polluted with MTBE for many years. However, this technology has important inconveniences and other alternatives must be explored. The price of carbon has constantly increased. Additionally, once carbon has been exhausted, it must be managed as special waste, which has additional costs.
The work published in the prestigious journal Environmental Science & Technology “Hydrophobic Fe-zeolites for removal of MTBE from water by combination of adsorption and oxidation” opens new paths for improving the efficacy of this type of treatment as well as reducing its costs. The process is based on the use of zeolites modified with iron. In a first stage, zeolites act as MBE adsorbents; it was observed that those that contain less aluminium have a higher adsorption capacity than activated carbons. In a second stage, zeolites can be “in situ” regenerated through an advanced oxidation process with hydrogen peroxide. Thus, the adsorbent can be reused several times.
This research work has been led by LEQUIA researcher Dr. Rafael González Olmos within the framework of the following projects: “Development of materials to treat contaminated efluents by combination of adsorption and advanced oxidation processes (AdsOxd) (JCI-2010-07104)” and “Assessment of the Wet Peroxide Oxidation Using Innovative Catalyst for Removal of Fuel Oxygenates from Contaminated Water (PIEF-GA-2009-236583)”. Advanced oxidation and adsorption processes for the treatment of liquid and gas effluents, is one of the main research lines of LEQUIA.
Gonzalez-Olmos, R., Kopinke, F.-D., Mackenzie K., Georgi, A. Hydrophobic Fe-zeolites for removal of MTBE from water by combination of adsorption and oxidation, Environmental Science & Technology, 2013, 47, 2353-2360