This paper taking a full-scale coking wastewater (CWW) treatment plant as a case study aimed to characterize removal behaviors of dissolved organic matter (DOM) by UV spectra and fluorescence excitation-emission matrix-parallel factor analysis (PARAFAC), and investigate the correlations between spectroscopic indices and water quality parameters. Efficient removal rates of chemical oxygen demand (COD), dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and total nitrogen (TN) after the bio-treatment were 91.3%, 87.3% and 69.1%, respectively. UV270 was proven to be a stable UV absorption peak of CWW that could reflect the mixture of phenols, heterocyclics, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons and their derivatives. Molecular weight and aromaticity were increased, and also the content of polar functional groups was greatly reduced after bio-treatment. Three fluorescent components were identified by PARAFAC: C1 (tyrosine-like), C2 (tryptophan-like) and C3 (humic-like). The removal rate of protein-like was higher than that of humic-like and C1 was identified as biodegradable substance. Correlation analysis showed UV270 had an excellent correlation with COD (r = 0.921, n = 60, P < 0.01) and DOC (r = 0.959, n = 60, P < 0.01) and significant correlation (r = 0.875, n = 60, P < 0.01) was also found between C2 and TN. Therefore, spectroscopic characterization could provide novel insights into removal behaviors of DOM and potential to monitor water quality real-time during CWW bio-treatment.

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