Monday, March 25, 2013
Thanks to a new treatment technique, wastewater treatment plants may soon be able to remove more pharmaceutical chemicals found in wastewater. The technology–known as membrane distillation–is the first of its kind capable of treating large amounts of water.
The process works by heating wastewater and then using a filter to separate pharmaceutical compounds from the water vapor. During test runs conducted by the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, membrane distillation was able to remove as much as 100 percent of some pharmaceuticals, compared to the 70-85 percent success rate of more conventional methods. One of those chemicals is Oxazepam, an antianxiety medication that has recently been linked to behavioral changes in wild perch.
So far, researchers have mostly investigated whether the technology can remove pharmaceuticals at concentrations found in the effluent of a Swedish treatment plant. It is still unknown whether membrane distillation is effective at higher concentrations.
Image courtesy of KTH The Royal Institute of Technology