Oxidative treatment of water and wastewater: contaminant abatement and byproduct formation


Event details

Date 22.05.2024
Hour 10:0011:00
Speaker Dr. Daniel McCurry is an Associate Professor and Dr. Shiao-Ping Siao Yen Early Career Chair in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Southern California. Dr. McCurry completed his Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering with a Chemistry minor at Stanford University in 2016. Prior to Stanford, he earned an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from Yale University and a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Cincinnati, and worked in the U.S. EPA Office of Research and Development. Dr. McCurry's research focuses on protecting public health by improving the long-term safety of engineered water sources. He applies tools from organic and analytical chemistry to water quality challenges related to oxidative treatment of water and wastewater, with an emphasis on identifying formation mechanisms and precursors of oxidation byproducts to minimize their formation.
Location Online
Category Conferences - Seminars
Event Language English

Wastewater increasingly serves as a drinking water source, either deliberately through potable water reuse, or accidently during de facto wastewater reuse, when wastewater effluent is released into surface waters upstream of a water treatment plant. Wastewater reuse is a promising solution to water scarcity, however toxic chemical contaminants in treated wastewater may threaten public health and confidence in public water supplies.
This presentation will focus on two classes of contaminants recently found in oxidatively treated wastewater: nitroalkanes and aldehydes. We recently identified nitromethane as a major ozonation byproduct in wastewater and found that it serves as the key intermediate toward chloropicrin, a potent genotoxin, during subsequent chlorination. We further found that, at wastewater reuse plants, downstream nitromethane removal by reverse osmosis (RO) and advanced oxidation processes (AOP) were poor. Unlike RO and AOP, biofiltration showed promise, with nitromethane removals up to 95%.
The second part of this presentation will focus on a new treatment technology for low molecular weight aldehydes, recently shown to comprise a large fraction of the organic carbon in finished recycled wastewater. We repurposed transition metal catalysts from the organic synthesis literature to oxidize aldehydes to (non-toxic) carboxylates under mild conditions, with ambient dissolved oxygen serving as the terminal electron acceptor. We documented aldehyde oxidation kinetics, elucidated a mechanism to explain the variation in reaction rates for different aldehydes, and demonstrated long-term catalyst operation in a flow-through column reactor. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first abiotic application of ambient dissolved oxygen as a useful oxidant for water treatment.

Practical information

  • Informed public
  • Free
  • This event is internal


  • Prof. Tamar Kohn

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