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Changes in the characteristics of dissolved organic matter (
the dissolved fraction of natural organic matter) during a series of wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) processes were investigated by using a combination of molecular size analysis and excitation emission matrix (EEM) spectroscopy coupled with parallel factor analysis. The characteristics of DOM were compared following aerobic, anoxic, and anaerobic treatments. Three peaks at about 100,000 Da (high-molecular-size DOM, Peak 1) and about 900-1,100 Da (intermediate-molecular-size DOM, Peak 2; low-molecular-size DOM, Peak 3 as the shoulder of Peak 2) were observed in the distribution of total organic carbon molecular sizes in the influent of the WWTPs. In this study, five fluorescent components (C1 to C5) were identified in the EEM spectra. Molecular size analysis and molecular size fractionation revealed that the C3 (humic-like) and C5 (specific to sewage) fluorophores had intermediate or low molecular sizes. Comparison of the changes of the concentrations of dissolved organic carbon in each reaction tank and investigation of the removal selectivity of each treatment (aerobic, anaerobic, and anoxic) suggested that the heterogenous compounds present in DOM of the influent were homogenized into intermediate-molecular-size DOM with high hydrophobicity and aromaticity, or into C4 fluorophores (DOM-X), during anaerobic or anoxic treatment. DOM-X was able to be transformed or removed by aerobic treatment. The results suggested that introduction of aerobic treatment at the appropriate stage of wastewater treatment or inclusion of physical or chemical treatment should be an effective way to optimize DOM removal.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Water research
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