Refractory pharmaceuticals remain in biologically treated wastewater and are continuously discharged into aquatic systems due to their limited biodegradability. Electrochemical oxidation is promising for the treatment of such refractory compounds, in particular using a boron doped diamond (BDD) anode. This study investigates the role of salts, such as sulfates and chlorides in the electrochemical treatment of wastewater.
The presence of sulfates accelerated the removal of ciprofloxacin and sulfamethoxazole, but had no effect on the oxidation of salbutamol. This comparison highlights the selectivity of the reaction between organics and sulfate radicals. The addition of chlorides into the solution led to a remarkably-faster degradation of ciprofloxacin.
However, incomplete mineralization was observed at high current densities due to the significant formation of halogenated organic compounds (AOX). The formation of refractory and toxic compounds such as ClO4 − and AOX can be limited under the control of (i) applied current intensity and (ii) duration of electrolysis. Electrochemical oxidation of concentrated biologically-treated hospital wastewater investigated the excellent removal of biorefractory pharmaceuticals and confirmed the acceleration effect of salts on pharmaceutical degradation. © 2017 Elsevier Ltd