Characteristics of biotic and abiotic removals of dissolved organic carbon in wastewater effluents using soil batch reactors

Woosuk Cha, Peter Fox, Fahad N. Mir, Heechul Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Biodegradable dissolved organic carbon (BDOC) analyses and abiotic adsorption of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) from different wastewater effluent were conducted to evaluate biotic and abiotic removal mechanisms as a function of the initial DOC concentration and source of DOC using soil batch reactors. To obtain high DOC concentrations, a laboratory-scale reverse osmosis unit was used. It was found that BDOC fraction was independent of the initial DOC concentration and was dependent on the source of wastewater and/or the types of wastewater treatment. The BDOC fractions varied from 9 to 73%. Trickling filter effluent (Tucson, Arizona) showed the highest BDOC, ranging from 65 to 73% biodegradable, while wastewater treated by the soil aquifer treatment (SAT) (NW-4) was found to be most refractory, with DOC removals of 9 to 14%. For nitrified/denitrified tertiary effluent (Mesa, Arizona) and secondary effluent (Scottsdale, Arizona), 36 to 42% removal of DOC was observed during the BDOC test. The amount of BDOC in the wastewater depended not on the concentration of DOC, but on the effectiveness of pretreatment. Abiotic adsorption capacity of wastewater effluent varied from 6 to 18%. Molecular weight distribution analyses showed that more than 50% of DOC in the Scottsdale concentrate had a molecular weight of less than 1000 Da, and no significant change in distribution profiles occurred after approximately 12% abiotic adsorption with both soils with acclimated microorganisms (SAT soil) and soils without acclimated microorganisms (non-SAT soils). Hence, preferential adsorption was not observed and the presence of acclimated microbes did not influence adsorption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-136
Number of pages7
JournalWater Environment Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004


  • Adsorption
  • Biodegradable dissolved organic carbon
  • Molecular weight distribution
  • Soil aquifer treatment
  • Water reuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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