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Electrochemical Treatment of Reverse Osmosis Concentrate

Electrochemical advanced oxidation processes (EAOPs) have attracted interest in recent years
for use in the remediation and treatment of wastewater. In particular, the electro-Fenton (EF)
process utilizes hydroxyl radicals to mineralise organic compounds while electrocoagulation
(EC) uses sacrificial electrodes to promote the formation of coagulating species that combine
with pollutants such as inorganic ions to form large flocs that can be removed by filtration. The
primary objective of this study was to propose EF-EC method as a novel integrated process for
remediation of reverse osmosis (RO) concentrate. The EF process was optimised by varying the
type of anode, current and Fe2+ concentration. Under the optimal conditions of 500 mA and
[Fe2+] = 0.2 mM using BDD anode, the EF process achieved a COD, TOC and TSS removal
efficiency of 100%, 93.0% and 91.0% respectively. In addition, the EC treatment was able to
achieve ClO3-, ClO4-, NO2- and NH4+ removal efficiency of 75.5%, 88.1%, 83.7% and 86.9%
respectively. The integrated EF-EC treatment also achieved overall Cl- and NO3- removal
efficiency of 80.7% and 30.6% respectively. The produced effluent after 4 hours of EF and 0.5
hours of EC was able to reach NEA’s strict watercourse discharge standard in terms of COD and
TSS. The estimated total operational cost for the treatment was S$0.011/L ROC. Results from
this study show that the two-step integrated EF-EC process is a cost-effective and feasible
method for the treatment of RO concentrate.