Removal of Phenol from Chemical Wastewater

The Background

Chemicals are widely used in the manufacture of everyday products including non-stick coatings, paints, adhesives and cleaning agents. Chemical compounds are often persistent in nature, meaning they can pass through traditional wastewater treatment systems, resulting in these compounds being released into waterways within wastewater effluent and even entering sources of water used for drinking purposes.

Furthermore, some chemical substances do not degrade, but bioaccumulate in the bodies of humans and animals. Researchers have found over 300 substances in human blood samples and breast milk, some of which can interfere with the hormone system or nervous system (endocrine disruption).

Improvements in analytical capabilities over recent years has meant that the visibility of persistent chemical compounds in water bodies has increased. This has led to:

  • Consumer pressure over human health and the environment
  • New technology development to cope with compounds of emerging concern
  • New directives and regulations being considered by controlling bodies

The Project

A manufacturer of thermoset resins and speciality chemicals who support customers in a diverse range of application and industries, approached Arvia to help them reduce phenol levels in their wastewater.

The aim of the project was to demonstrate and evaluate the effectiveness of the Nyex™-a system in the reduction of phenol levels from wastewater. Two samples of wastewater were processed for treatment – a chemical distillate and an effluent.

Successful treatment of phenols will prevent the need for collecting and transporting this wastewater off-site by third-party specialists, which is damaging to the environment, as well as costly to the business.

Treatment will also protect the Biological Aerated Flooded Filters (BAFF) process employed on the client’s site, which has recently been inhibited by phenols.

The Solution

Arvia’s Nyex™-a system was deployed against this application. This process combines adsorption with electrochemical oxidation in a single, scalable unit. The phenol is preferentially adsorbed, localising it onto the surface of the carbon-based Nyex™ media. A low electrical current is then passed through the media bed which fully mineralises the adsorbed contaminants to H₂O, H₂ and CO₂. The electrical current simultaneously regenerates the surface of the media in-situ, allowing for further adsorption and treatment without interruption or incineration.

Results are achieved without chemical dosing or the generation of sludge reducing costs in terms of labour, transport of chemicals and specialist waste disposal.

The Results

Successful removal of the phenol content was achieved on both the chemical distillate and chemical effluent (see figures 1 and 2 below).

Chemical Distillate Treatment

The phenol content was reduced from 4,761 mg/L to 1,096 mg/L

This indicates an approximate removal of 75% of the initial phenol content

The phenol concentration would be reduced to below 500 mg/L over a longer trial period


Chemical Effluent Treatment

It can be observed that the phenol dropped from 645 mg/L to <0.5 mg/L

This demonstrates an approximate 99% reduction in phenol levels with just over 600mg/L being removed from the initial sample

The limit of detection (LOD) was 0.5 mg/L

These results demonstrate the capability of the Nyex™-a system to deal with a range of phenol concentrations to provide reduction to safe levels to suit the client’s requirements.

Get in touch

To see how the Nyex™ Treatment Systems can be suited to effectively treat your wastewater for the lifetime of your project, get in touch with our industry experts today.

Arvia Technology Ltd

Safer water for future generations


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