In this study, we investigated the pretreatment of a high concentration pharmaceutical wastewater by catalytic wet air oxidation (CWAO) process. Different experiments were conducted to investigate the effects of the catalyst type, operating temperature, initial system pH, and oxygen partial pressure on the oxidation of the wastewater. Results show that the catalysts prepared by the co-precipitation method have better catalytic activity compared to others. Chemical oxygen demand (COD) conversion increased with the increase in temperature from 160 to 220 °C and decreased with the increase in pH. Moreover, the effect of the oxygen partial pressure on the COD conversion was significant only during the first 20 min of the reaction. Furthermore, the biodegradability of the wastewater improved greatly after CWAO, the ratio of BOD5/COD increased less than 0.1–0.75 when treated at 220 °C (BOD: biochemical oxygen demand).

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