The disinfection efficiencies of a commercial mixture of peracetic acid against Escherichia coli were studied in laboratory scale experiments. The joint and separate action of two disinfectant agents, hydrogen peroxide and peracetic acid, were evaluated in order to observe synergistic effects. A kinetic model for each component of the mixture and for the commercial mixture was proposed. Through simple mathematical equations, the model describes different stages of attack by disinfectants during the inactivation process. Based on the experiments and the kinetic parameters obtained, it could be established that the efficiency of hydrogen peroxide was much lower than that of peracetic acid alone. However, the contribution of hydrogen peroxide was very important in the commercial mixture. It should be noted that this improvement occurred only after peracetic acid had initiated the attack on the cell. This synergistic effect was successfully explained by the proposed scheme and was verified by experimental results. Besides providing a clearer mechanistic understanding of water disinfection, such models may improve our ability to design reactors.

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