The relevant environmental hazard related to the presence of pharmaceuticals in water sources requires the development of high effective and suitable wastewater treatment technologies. In the present work, a hybrid process coupling electro-Fenton (EF) process and aerobic biological treatment (Bio-EF process) was implemented for the efficient and cost-effective mineralization of beta-blocker metoprolol (MPTL) aqueous solutions. Firstly, operating factors influencing EF process were assessed. MTPL solutions were completely mineralized after 4 h-electrolysis under optimal operating conditions and BDD anode demonstrated its oxidation superiority. The absolute rate constant of MTPL oxidation byradical dotOH (kMTPL) was determined by the competition kinetics method and found to be (1.72 ± 0.04) × 109 M−1 s−1. A reaction pathway for the mineralization of the drug was proposed based on the identification of oxidation by-products. Secondly, EF process was used as pre-treatment. An increase of BOD5/COD ratio from 0.012 to 0.44 was obtained after 1 h EF treatment, along with 47% TOC removal and a significant decrease of toxicity, demonstrating the feasibility of a post-biological treatment. Finally, biological treatment successfully oxidized 43% of the total TOC content. An overall 90% mineralization of MPTL solutions was achieved by the Bio-EF process, demonstrating its potentiality for treating wastewater containing pharmaceutical residues.
- Bioelectro-Fenton; Electro-Fenton; Biodegradability; Oxidation by-products; Hydroxyl radicals