Reuse of activated carbon for the removal of organic micropollutants

The removal or organic micropollutants (OMPs) from (waste) water is becoming a matter of more and more importance. Pharmaceutical residues are increasingly being removed from domestic wastewater – both at and outside the wastewater treatment plants. Horticultural companies are also obligated to extensively treat their wastewater to remove plant protection products.


Organic micropollutants can be removed from water using a variety of technologies. It has been shown that (as-yet unused) activated carbon is a suitable option. However, fresh activated carbon from coal is not a sustainable source. That is why this project is investigating whether powdered activated carbon that has already been used for the production of drinking water is a suitable means of removing OMPs from municipal wastewater and horticultural wastewater.


The raw material is being analysed in terms of its composition, variability and availability. Laboratory tests are being run to study the adsorption capacity of the carbon that Dunea has already used in its drinking water production. The possible means of applying the carbon in the treatment of wastewater is also being researched. An LCA study is being conducted to assess the environmental impact of (Dunea’s) reused carbon compared to that of fresh carbon (from coal). A technical and logistical feasibility analysis and an economic assessment are also part of this study.


This project will elucidate whether reused carbon from drinking water production is suitable for the removal of organic micropollutants from wastewater.

More specifically, it will provide:

  • Insight into the available adsorption capacity of reused powdered carbon from Dunea for organic micropollutants in wastewater.
  • A comparison of the adsorption capacity, means of application and environmental impact of reused and fresh carbon.
  • Information about the material’s suitability (based on the Dunea carbon) for the removal of (residues of) pharmaceuticals and plant protection products.