Micropollutants removal, such as pharmaceutical substances, during wastewater treatment processes is becoming a greater issue everyday. In order to optimize it, their biodegradation processes have to be better understood. So far, microcalorimetry has been used worldwide to investigate chemical reactions. For few years now it has also been developed to model and control biological processes. In the case of micropollutants, respirometry is, most of the time, not precise enough to determine biodegradation. That is why, microcalorimetric experiments have been set up. For this purpose, a 2 L Bio-RC1 (Mettler-Toledo) has been modified to reach a resolution of 5–10 mW.L−1.
In this study, the biodegradation rate of standard substrates (Ethanol and Ammonia) by an activated sludge from a full-scale CAS and one from a MBR pilot plant operating in parallel have been compared by means of microcalorimetry. Then few trials to determine the biodegradation of selected pharmaceutical substances, as well as the eventual inhibition induced by them have been made. The first results did not exhibit any biological activity. However, they have displayed inhibition for both studied substances.