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Emerging substances: towards an absolute barrier

Drinking water sources are becoming increasingly contaminated with emerging substances (e.G., Pharmaceuticals and hormones). Currently no sufficient treatment technology is available. In this project belgian, german and dutch partners develop an absolute barrier for emerging substances.

BACKGROUND In Europe, drinking water sources are becoming increasingly contaminated with emerging substances (e.g., pharmaceuticals and hormones). The health-risks related to these substances are not yet known and very difficult to predict (animal toxicity tests translation is unreliable and the effects of the cocktail of pharmaceuticals are unknown). Therefore it is extremely desirable to remove these pollutants from the water before it is distributed as drinking water to the consumers. However, technological advancement in the removal of pharmaceuticals is seriously hampered by the limited knowledge on removal mechanisms in the different existing water treatment processes (and thus, requirements for new systems cannot systematically be considered). As a consequence, pharmaceuticals are not always completely removed in current drinking water treatment plants. Because of the constant discovery of new pollutants in the source water, it is also very difficult for drinking water utilities to stay up-to-date and conduct new pilot-scale tests for every single substance that is found. DESCRIPTION OF TECHNOLOGY PROPOSED The objective is to develop a new drinking water treatment technology that provides an absolute barrier for organic micro pollutants / emerging substances. As it is almost impossible to characterise all emerging substances individually, a generic characterisation methodology is developed. This is based on the QSAR methodology, in which DELFT UNIVERSITY has excellent expertise. The QSAR (quantitative structure-activity relationships) concept means linking solute structure to a certain characteristic (in this case which facilitate removal) and is derived from drug design. Based on the QSAR characteristics, the idea is to develop an integrated process existing of River Bank Filtration, Membrane Filtration and Activated Carbon Filtration. Each of the sub processes are expected to be capable of removing specific clusters of micro organic pollutants. APPROACH WP0: Project management: managing the project within planning and budget. WP1: Research treatment processes and QSAR modelling: research on the relevant process and micro-pollutant parameters that affect removal; (statistical) modelling of the effect of these characteristics and parameters on removal to provide a priori predictions of organic micro-pollutant removal based on their chemical structure (quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSAR)). WP2: Development River Bank Filtration (RBF): developing a process and operational design for RBF for preferential removal of small polar (approximately hydrophilic) contaminants. WP3: Development membrane filtration: developing a new membrane material, module design and pilot for removal of organic micro-pollutants and direct nano-filtration of surface water. Research on the influence of membrane fouling on removal of organic micro-pollutants. WP4: Development activated carbon filtration (ACF): developing a process and operational design for ACF and a pilot for selective removal of apolar (hydrophobic) micro-pollutants. WP5: Development integrated pilot: developing a pilot for an absolute barrier against emerging substances for drinking water production from surface water. WP 6: Pilot research and model validation: operation and evaluation of pilot plants and QSAR models at 4 different relevant locations.
Acronym: 
ESTAB
Project ID: 
5 789
Start date: 
01-03-2010
Project Duration: 
36months
Project costs: 
2 640 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Water Pollution / Treatment
Market Area: 
Water treatment equipment and waste disposal systems

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.