Electrochemical Treatment of 4-Hydroxyphenylacetic Acid in Olive Oil Mill Wastewater

Tuesday, 30 May 2017: 11:40
Marlborough A (Hilton New Orleans Riverside)
N. E. Flores, P. L. Cabot, F. Centellas, E. Brillas, and I. Sirés (Universitat de Barcelona)

The decontamination of olive oil mill wastewater (OMWW) is of great interest in Mediterranean countries as the main producers of olive oil worldwide. The large variety of recalcitrant substances contained in OMWW and the difficulty to remove them or recycle the large volumes of wastewater encourage the development of new technologies for decontamination, like electrochemical advanced oxidation processes (EAOPs) that present high performance for recalcitrant compounds [1,2]. 4-Hydroxyphenylacetic acid (4-HPA) is a main component of this kind of wastewater [3]. This communication presents the effective removal of 4-HPA from an OMWW matrix by EAOPs including anodic oxidation with electrogenerated H2O2 (AO-H2O2), electro-Fenton (EF) and UVA photoelectro-Fenton (PEF).


Analytical grade 4-HPA was purchased from Sigma. The OMWW was provided by a local company of olive oil extraction, which was characterized by analyzing its metal content, BOD, COD, TOC, conductance, TS, TDS and organic components before use. As a first step, the OMWW was filtered with a 45 µm cloth. As a second step, several mixtures with 100 mg L-1 TOC of 4-HPA in OMWW were prepared. The OMWW/water ratio was varied from 20/80 to 100/0 v/v. Experiments were also carried out using 100 mg L-1 TOC of 4-HPA in 50 mM of Na2SO4 to clarify the matrix effect. AO-H2O2, EF and PEF experiments were performed with 100 mL of each solution at pH 3.0 and 25 ºC using a stirred tank reactor with a 3 cm2 boron-doped diamond (BDD) anode and a 3 cm2 carbon-polytetrafluoroethylene air-diffusion cathode by applying 16.7 mA cm-2 for 540 min. In the two latter methods, 0.50 mM Fe2+ was added as catalyst for Fenton’s reaction. PEF trials were run with a 6W UVA light.


The characteristics of the real OMWW were: 505.35 mg L-1 of TOC, 1.51 mS of conductance, 1600 mg L-1 of BOD, 5536 mg L-1 of TS and 82 mgL-1 of TDS. For each method, a gradual decay in TOC was found as the OMWW ratio in the sample increased. For example, a final TOC removal of 89% was achieved by AO-H2O2 in 50 mM Na2SO4, whereas it was reduced by 75% in a 60/40 OMWW/water mixture and 60% in pure OMWW. The best results were obtained by PEF, with final TOC decays of 98%, 88% and 87% in a the above media due to the combined action of OH produced at the BDD surface from water oxidation, the OH formed during Fenton’s reaction and the extra decomposition of Fe(III)-carboxylate complexes by UVA light. The kinetic assays also showed a drop in 4-HPA decay with raising OMWW content. Thus, total disappearance of the substrate was attained in 360 min by AO-H2O2 in 50 mM Na2SO4 and in 500 min for the other solutions. For the best process (i.e., PEF), these times diminished to 60 and 80 min, respectively.


4-HPA can be effectively degraded in an OMWW matrix using the EAOPs studied, especially PEF. This process was the most efficient one, reaching an almost total mineralization, to a larger extent in pure Na2SO4. The decay and mineralization of 4-HPA rose in the order AO-H2O2 < EF < PEF, regardless of the matrix used. The oxidation power of OH formed from water oxidation at the BDD surface in AO-H2O2 was strongly enhanced by the additional OH in the bulk from Fenton’s reaction, being the degradation improved under the potent action of UVA irradiation in PEF. For all the EAOPs studied, the presence of OMWW decelerated TOC removal and 4-HPA decay. This can be related to the parallel reactions of OH with the organic components present in OMWW that act as oxidant scavengers.


We are grateful for economical support from project CTQ2016-78616-R (MINECO, FEDER, EU) and for the scholarship given to N.E Flores from SENESCYT (Ecuador).


[1] A. Thiam, E. Brillas, F. Centellas, P.L. Cabot, I. Sirés, Electrochemical reactivity of Ponceau 4R (food additive E124) in different electrolytes and batch cells, Electrochim. Acta 173 (2015) 523.

[2] A. Thiam, E. Brillas, J.A. Garrido, R.M. Rodríguez, I. Sirés, Routes for the electrochemical degradation of the artificial food azo-colour Ponceau 4R by advanced oxidation processes, Appl. Catal. B: Environ. 180 (2016) 227.

[3] C. Belaid, M. Khadraoui, S. Mseddi, M. Kallel, B. Elleuch, J.F. Fauvarque, Electrochemical treatment of olive mill wastewater: Treatment extent and effluent phenolic compounds monitoring using some uncommon analytical tools, J. Environ. Sci. 25 (2013) 220.