Degradation of total phenol (TPh) and organic matter, (expressed as total organic carbon TOC), of a simulated olive mill wastewater was evaluated by the Fenton oxidation process under batch and continuous mode conditions. A mixture of six phenolic acids usually found in these agroindustrial
wastewaters was used for this purpose. The study focused on the optimization of key operational parameters of the Fenton process in a batch reactor, namely Fe2+ dosage, hydrogen peroxide concentration, pH, and reaction temperature.
On the assessment of the process efficiency, > 99% of TPh and > 56% of TOC removal were attained when [Fe2+] = 100 ppm, [H2O2] = 2.0 g/L, T = 30 °C, and initial pH = 5.0, after 300 min of reaction. Under those operational conditions, experiments on a continuous stirred-tank reactor (CSTR) were performed for different space-time values (¿). TOC and TPh removals of 47.5 and 96.9%, respectively, were reached at steady-state (for ¿ = 120 min). High removal of COD (> 75%) and BOD5 (> 70%)was achieved for both batch and CSTR optimum conditions; analysis of the BOD5/COD ratio also revealed an increase in the effluent¿s biodegradability. Despite the high removal of lumped parameters, the treated effluent did not met the Portuguese legal limits for direct discharge of wastewaters into water bodies, which indicates that coupled chemical-biological process may be the best solution
for real olive mill wastewater treatment.
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