Nontarget analysis: A new tool for the evaluation of wastewater processes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


title = "Nontarget analysis: A new tool for the evaluation of wastewater processes",
abstract = "Strategies to determine the removal efficiency of micropollutants in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are widely discussed. Especially the evaluation of the potential benefit of further advanced treatment steps such as an additional tertiary treatment based on ozonation or activated carbon have come into focus. Such evaluation strategies are often based on the removal behavior of known micropollutants via target or suspected analysis. The utilization of nontarget analysis is considered to lead to a more comprehensive picture as also unknown or not expected micropollutants are analyzed. Here, the results of an evaluation via target and nontarget analysis were compared for biological treatment (BT) processes of eleven full-scale WWTPs and three different post-treatments (PTs): one sand filter (SF) and two granular activated carbon (GAC) filters. The similarity of the determined removals from target and nontarget analysis of the BTs increased significantly by excluding easily degradable “features” from the nontarget evaluation. A similar ranking of the removal trends for the BTs could also be achieved by comparing this new subset of nontarget features with a set of nine readily to moderately biodegradable micropollutants. This observation suggests that a performance ranking of BTs based either on target or nontarget analysis is plausible. In contrast to the BTs, the evaluation of the three PTs revealed that the difference of feature removal between SF and the two GACs was small, but large for the target analytes with substantially higher removal effciencies for the GACs compared to the SF. In addition to the removal behavior, the nontarget analysis provided further information about the number and quantity of transformation products (TPs) in the effluent from the BTs. For all BTs more than half (55–67%) of the features detected in the effluent were not found in the influent. A comparable proportion of TPs was also detected after GAC and sand filtration due to their microbial activities.",
keywords = "Activated carbon filtration, HRMS, Micropollutants, Process evaluation, QTOF",
author = "Gudrun N{\"u}renberg and Uwe Kunkel and Arne Wick and Per Fal{\aa}s and Adriano Joss and Ternes, {Thomas A.}",
year = "2019",
month = oct,
day = "15",
doi = "10.1016/j.watres.2019.07.009",
language = "English",
volume = "163",
journal = "Water Research",
issn = "1879-2448",
publisher = "Elsevier",