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Removal of Polyvinylpyrrolidone from Wastewater Using Different Methods

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Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) is a frequently used polymer in the pharmaceutical and foodstuff industries. Because it is not subject to metabolic changes and is virtually nondegradable, trace concentrations of PVP are often found in community wastewaters. The literature finds that the partial removal of PVP in wastewater treatment plants probably occurs through sorption. The primary objective of this study was to find an effective method to remove PVP from wastewaters. In this regard, the literature indicates the theoretical potential to use specific enzymes (e.g., γ-lactamases, amidases) to gradually degrade PVP molecules. Polyvinylpyrrolidone biodegradability tests were conducted using suitable heterogeneous cultures (activated sludge) collected from a conventional wastewater treatment plant, treatment plants connected to a pharmaceutical factory, and using select enzymes. Aerobic biodegradation of PVP in a conventional wastewater environment was ineffective, even after adaptation of activated sludge using the nearly identical monomer 1-methyl-2-pyrrolidone. Another potential method for PVP removal involves pretreating the polymer prior to biological degradation. Based on the results (approximately 10 to 15% biodegradation), pretreatment was partially effective, realistically, it could only be applied with difficulty at wastewater treatment plants. Sorption of PVP to an active carbon sorbent (Chezacarb S), which corresponded to the Langmuir isotherm, and sorption to activated sludge, which corresponded to the Freundlich isotherm, were also evaluated. From these sorption tests, it can be concluded that the considerable adsorption of PVP to activated sludge occurred primarily at low PVP concentrations. Based on the test results, the authors recommend the following methods for PVP removal from wastewater: (1) sorption; (2) application of specific microorganisms; and (3) alkaline hydrolysis, which is the least suitable of the three for use in wastewater treatment plants.
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Keywords: activated sludge; active carbon; alkaline hydrolysis; biodegradation; polyvinylpyrrolidone; sorption

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Environment Protection Engineering, Faculty of Technology, Tomas Bata University in Zlín, TGM Square 275, 762 72 Zlín, Czech Republic.

Publication date: 2012-12-01

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  • Water Environment Research (WER) is published monthly, including an annual Literature Review. A subscription to WER includes access to the latest content back to 1992, as well as access to fast track articles. An individual subscription is valid for 12 months from month of purchase.

    Water Environment Research (WER) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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