WasteMAC – Industrial wastes as new resources for micro-wave assisted production of magnetic activated carbons – application in the removal of pharmaceuticals from water


Vânia Maria Amaro Calisto


Programa Operacional Competitividade e Internacionalização (02/SAICT/2017)


01/07/2018 - 31/12/2021

Funding for CESAM

236945 €

Total Funding

236945 €

The development of efficient and cost-effective methodologies to remove pharmaceuticals from contaminated effluents constitute a key point to reduce the input of these pollutants into water resources. Removal of pharmaceuticals from water by adsorption onto activated carbons (AC) is considered one of the most powerful solutions for this problem, but the high costs of commercial AC (due to non-renewable precursors and conventional production methods) and limiting operational drawbacks (mainly in the case of powdered AC) highly narrow their large-scale application in wastewater (WW) treatment. In this context, alternative and, most importantly, high performance and eco-friendly adsorbents for removal of persistent contaminants from WW are needed. This project aims at addressing this environmental issue by optimizing the production of a magnetic powdered activated carbon (MAC) using chemical activation and micro-wave heating of paper mill sludge and its application in a Continuously Stirred Tank Adsorber. WasteMAC final goal is to produce an adsorbent that can compete with commercially available options, in terms of adsorption capacity towards the targeted contaminants, which also offers key application advantages for WW treatment systems. Also, by using paper mill sludge as raw material, WasteMAC simultaneously valorizes a problematic industrial residue and boosts the implementation of circular economy, resource efficiency and zero-waste approaches by re-introducing residues into the productive chain. The proposed goals will be achieved by: a) the micro-wave assisted production of a highly microporous MAC, using primary paper mill sludge (PS) as precursor. The use of PS will allow to eliminate the costs of conventional AC raw materials while micro-wave heating is expected to highly reduce energy consumption and increase the yields of the process in comparison with conventional pyrolysis; b) applying the produced MAC in both batch and continuous stirred adsorption systems for the removal of pharmaceuticals from WW. At this point, magnetic properties of MAC should allow an easy and rapid separation of the exhausted material from the treated effluent, overcoming one of the major operational problems of powdered AC; c) implementing and optimizing the micro-wave assisted regeneration of the exhausted MAC which improves cost-effectiveness due to MAC reuse; d) performing a detailed economic analysis, allowing a final evaluation of the feasibility of the developed solution. WasteMAC will be developed at the Chemistry, Environment and Planning and Physics Departments of the University of Aveiro, CESAM and CICECO, in close collaboration with 3 partners: Instituto Nacional del Carbón (INCAR-CSIC; Oviedo, Spain) will participate in the characterization of the materials; RAIZ (Instituto de Investigação da Floresta e do Papel) will establish the link to local paper industries; Águas do Centro Litoral, will provide the link to urban wastewater treatment entities.