Hospital wastewater treatment with pilot-scale pulsed corona discharge for removal of pharmaceutical residues

Petri Ajo*, Sergei Preis, Timo Vornamo, Mika Mänttäri, Mari Kallioinen, Marjatta Louhi-Kultanen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)
281 Downloads (Pure)


In recent years, accumulation of pharmaceutical compounds in the environment has been an issue of growing concern. Conventional wastewater treatment has limited effectiveness with many pharmaceuticals at concentrations of ppb or ppt scale. An intuitive solution would be to treat the pharmaceuticals-contaminated wastewaters at the source sites before dilution in sewer networks. Health institutions with concentrated drug consumption provide logical point sources for pharmaceuticals entering the sewage. This paper describes the pilot-scale removal of a wide range of pharmaceuticals from real wastewaters via gas-phase pulsed corona discharge oxidation. The process was studied for raw sewage from a public hospital and for biologically treated wastewater of a health-care institute. The non-selective oxidation of the observed pharmaceuticals (32 compounds) was effective at reasonable energy cost: 87-% reduction in residual pharmaceuticals (excluding biodegradable caffeine) from raw sewage was attained with 1 kWh m−3 from the raw sewage and 100% removal was achieved for biologically treated wastewater at only 0.5 kWh m−3. The impact for affected aquatic environments upon the present solution would be a dramatically reduced load of pharmaceutical accumulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1569-1577
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Chemical Engineering
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Drug
  • Hydroxyl radical
  • Micropollutant
  • Non-thermal plasma
  • Ozone


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