Environmental Science & Technology Post-Graduation Course, Centre of Engineering, Modelling and Applied Social Sciences, Federal University of ABC, Avenida dos Estados, 5001, Santo André, SP, 09210-580, Brazil. Electronic address: [Email]
Membrane bioreactors (MBRs) are one of the treatment technologies with the potential to remove emerging compounds from wastewater. The present work evaluated the efficiency of an MBR pilot system in removing amoxicillin from synthetic wastewater using a continuous flow pre-denitrification MBR (A/O-MBR) pilot unit. The system operated in three phases: (1) synthetic wastewater and hydraulic retention time (HRT) of 40 h; (2) adding amoxicillin 100 μg L-1 to the influent, and (3) varying flowrate to HRT of 20 h. Liquid chromatography coupled to high resolution mass spectrometry analysis confirmed the presence of five amoxicillin degradation by-products in the effluent. The addition of amoxicillin did not affect chemical oxygen demand (COD) or dissolved organic carbon (DOC) removal efficiencies. Respirometry showed that amoxicillin level did not inhibit heterotrophic bacteria metabolism. The change in HRT reduced the DOC removal (from 84% to 66%) but did not influence COD (>94%) or total nitrogen (>72%). The amoxicillin and by-products removal decreased from 80% to 54% with HRT change. Adsorption and biodegradation represented the largest removed fraction of the antibiotic in the A/O-MBR system (68%). Ecotoxicity assays showed P. fluorescens was more resistant and E. coli less resistant to amoxicillin residues at effluent sample matrix.