Jul 10, 2018

Plasma May Aid in Treatment of Drug-contaminated Wastewater

Runoff from domestic and hospital wastewater along with animal farm runoff are the cause major water pollution issues

Plasma may help eradicate pharmaceuticals from water supplies

One of the major water pollution problems plaguing various water supplies throughout the world comes in the form of pharmaceuticals present in wastewater or other channels. According to new research from the National Institute for Lasers and Romania’s University of Bucharest, plasma may be an effective solution in eradicating painkillers and other pharmaceuticals from the water supply.

In order to achieve the desired effect, researchers applied a pulsed corona discharge directly upon the affected wastewater to remove the common drug ibuprofen from the supply. In the past, alternative treatment methods or advanced oxidation processes have been ineffective.

The mechanism used to execute the process employed by the scientists was a combined plasma-ozonation system. The system ensured the mass transfer of plasma by bubbling effluent gas from the plasma through the solution. It was subsequently discovered that reducing the pulse width of the corona discharge led to a significant improvement in efficiency.

“Although the influence of pulse duration on the formation of oxidizing species in the discharge is still under study, it is believed that ibuprofen degradation is mainly caused by hydroxyl radicals, either produced directly in plasma or generated by ozone decomposition under alkaline pH conditions and in the presence of hydrogen peroxide,” said Monica Magureanu, leader of the team of researchers.

Using this process, researchers were able to entirely remove the target drug from the water within 15 to 20 minutes.