This study investigated the removal of chemical oxygen demand (COD), NH4-N, and perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in the effluent from a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) using ZnO coated activated carbon (ZnO/AC). Results suggested that the optimal dosage of the ZnO/AC was 0.8 g/L within 240 min of contact time, at which the maximum removal efficiency of COD was approximately 86.8%, while the removal efficiencies of PFOA and PFOS reached 86.5% and 82.1%. In comparison, the removal efficiencies of NH4-N, PFBA, and PFBS were lower, at approximately 47.9%, 44.0%, and 55.4%, respectively. In addition, COD was preferentially adsorbed before PFCs and NH4-N, when the contact time ranged from 0 to 180 min, and the order of PFCs removal showed a positive correlation with C-F chain length. The kinetic study revealed that the removal of COD, NH4-N, and PFCs could be better depicted and predicted by the Lagergren quasi-second order dynamic model with high correlation coefficients, which involved liquid membrane diffusion, intraparticle diffusion, and photocatalytic reactions. The saturated ZnO/AC was finally regenerated using ultrasound for 3 h and retained excellent performance, which proved it could be considered as an effective and alternative technology.

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