The effect of granular activated carbon (GAC) addition on the removal of diclofenac, ibuprofen, metoprolol, galaxolide and triclosan in a up-flow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactor was studied. Prior to the reactor studies, batch experiments indicated that addition of activated carbon to UASB sludge can decrease micropollutant concentrations in both liquid phase and sludge. In continuous experiments, two UASB reactors were operated for 260 days at an HRT of 20 days, using a mixture of source separated black water and sludge from aerobic grey water treatment as influent. GAC (5.7 g per liter of reactor volume) was added to one of the reactors on day 138. No significant difference in COD removal and biogas production between reactors with and without GAC addition was observed. In the presence of GAC, fewer micropollutants were washed out with the effluent and a lower accumulation of micropollutants in sludge and particulate organic matter occurred, which is an advantage in micropollutant emission reduction from wastewater. However, the removal of micropollutants by adding GAC to a UASB reactor would require more activated carbon compared to effluent post-treatment. Additional research is needed to estimate the effect of bioregeneration on the lifetime of activated carbon in a UASB-GAC reactor.

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