Advanced Oxidation of Biopharmaceuticals for Wastewater Treatment: Testing Acetaminophen Degradation by Photocatalytic Methods – Preliminary Results

  • Sunil Rawal
  • Sabrina Hurlock


Traditional waste water treatment plants have not been designed to handle degradation of pharmaceutical-based contaminants and cannot completely eliminate drugs residues; therefore, their metabolites can be seen in ground water, surface water and even in drinking water in low concentration. These residues must be eliminated by, for example, an advanced oxidation process to avoid the contamination of the land and aquifers. The research described here is focused on the use of advanced oxidation techniques, especially the use of photo-catalytic degradation processes via TiO2 nanoparticles-assisted by UV radiation-to degrade a pharmaceutical compound (Acetaminophen), in city water treatment plants similar to the Cookeville Water Treatment Plant. The reactor equipped with UV-lamp and the TiO2 nanoparticles has been applied to the degradation of the model contaminant with different concentrations of catalyst and Acetaminophen concentrations. Favorable conditions for contaminant degradation (~34%) were identified at low concentration of contaminants with low concentration of titanium dioxide at 90 minutes of treatment. In addition, a successful comparison was conducted to test the degradation of Acetaminophen with different advanced oxidation process e.g. UV(alone), UV/H2O2, UV/H2O2/TiO2 and H2O2 alone. The contribution will illustrate details of the treatment technique and will discuss the results obtained. Suggestions for further research will also be included.