Population growth and climate change are exacerbating water scarcity. Graywater recycling could reduce water demand but it is not commonly practiced because of high treatment costs. Biochar, an emerging low-cost alternative sorbent with potential environmental benefits for graywater treatment, was compared to activated carbon (AC) for removing dissolved organic carbon (DOC) from graywater. The impact of pretreatments (coagulation, biodegradation) were also evaluated. Among five biochars tested, a wood-based biochar was the most effective for graywater treatment, but AC removed more DOC. Sorption resulted in a greater percent removal of ultraviolet (UV) absorbance than DOC or free chlorine demand. Graywater regulations could not be met by sorption alone but could be met with pretreatment before sorption. After biodegradation, irrigation and toilet flushing treatment targets could be achieved with AC doses less than 0.7 g/L, while a biochar dose of about 1 g/L was needed to achieve the irrigation treatment targets. For DOC removal, alum coagulation at a dose of 30 mg/L was a less effective pretreatment than biodegradation. Pretreatment and sorption to decrease turbidity and increase UV transmittance could be effective for the potential use of UV disinfection, thus creating an effective graywater non-potable reuse approach.

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