Combined Electro-Fenton and Biological Process for Treatment of Antidepressant Sertraline: Performance Enhancement and By-Products Monitoring

Document Type : Original Article


1 Laboratory of Materials, Nanotechnology, and Environment, Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco, Faculty of Sciences, P.O. Box. 1014, Rabat, Morocco

2 Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry and Bromatology, Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy of Rabat, University Mohammed V, Rabat, Morocco

3 National Center for Scientific and Technical Research (CNRST-UATRS), Rabat, Morocco

4 National Office for Electricity and Drinking Water, Water Quality Control Department, Rabat, Morocco

5 Laboratory for the Study of Advanced Materials and Applications, Faculty of Sciences of Meknes, Higher School of Technology of Meknes, Moulay Ismail University, Meknes, Morocco

6 Department of Chemistry, AN-Najah National University, P.O. Box 7, Nablus, Palestine


In this work, we evaluated the potential of combining Fenton's reagent and biological treatment to remove persistent pharmaceutical pollutants, specifically sertraline hydrochloride (SER-HCl) with a view to mineralizing it in an economical and ecological way. A single-compartment batch reactor containing a carbon felt cathode and a platinum anode was used to perform the electro-Fenton pretreatment of SER-HCl. GC-MS and LC-MS were used to identify the intermediate by-products and thus to suggest a probable path of degradation. In addition, tracking of inorganic ions as well as the nitrogen and chloride molecules liberated during SER-HCl electrolysis was determined by ion chromatography. Then, the continuous aerobic degradation of SER-HCl, was studied for a period of 21 days at around 25 °C. A complete degradation of SER-HCl (0.1 mM) was noted at 400 mA after 5 min of electrolysis. In addition, an improvement in the BOD5/COD ratio was observed from an initial value of 0.042 to 0.33 and 0.47 over 1.5 and 2 hours of electrolysis respectively. The solution should be biodegradable after 1.5 hours of electro-Fenton pretreatment, from which the pharmaceutical product oxidized to readily biodegradable compounds, mostly short-chain carboxylic acids, which are available for uptake by microorganisms. In this point, a biological process of the electrolysis co-products after 1 h and 30 min, and 2 h was then performed aiming at biodegrading the remaining products. As a result, the COD yield increased slightly throughout the 21 days to 90.7% and 94.2% for 1 h30min and 2 h, respectively, showing the suitability of the proposed coupled process.


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