HKU researchers develop a novel wastewater treatment process to effectively remove health hazardous chemical contaminants

By Eric Lee
Mar 30th 2020

Sewage effluents are a significant source for the continuous input of these contaminants into the aquatic environment. High levels of these chemical contaminants are commonly found in sewage effluents discharged from conventional sewage treatment plants.

Professor Xiao-Yan Li of the Department of Civil Engineering who led the interdisciplinary research project, collaborated with Professor Kenneth Leung from HKU School of Biological Sciences and the Swire Institute of Marine Science has developed a novel wastewater treatment system that can effectively remove conventional pollutants, and recover valuable resources such as phosphorus and organic materials (i.e., carbon fibres and volatile organic acids).

This novel system combines chemically enhanced primary sedimentation of sewage with acidogenic fermentation of sludge in tandem. A series of laboratory experiments were conducted to prove that this novel system can effectively remove trace emerging chemical contaminants from wastewater and is more cost effective compared with conventional wastewater treatment systems.