Oxidation of Disinfection Byproducts and Algae-related Odorants by UV/H₂O₂

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Virginia Tech


This research involved an investigation of the application and reaction mechanisms of UV/H₂O₂ for the simultaneous removal of regulated halogenated disinfection byproducts (DBPs) and odorous aldehydic algal byproducts in the presence of geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol, which are earthy-musty odorants that commonly occur in drinking water. UV/H₂O₂ is an expensive advanced oxidation process that is used to successfully control geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol. The aqueous oxidation of odorous aldehydes and halogenated DPBs were compared to that of the earthy-musty odorants and the changes to the sensory properties of the drinking water were examined. Geosmin, 2-methylisoborneol, heptadienal, decadienal, and nonadienal, hexanal, and the two most prevalent classes of DBPs, trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs) were oxidized by UV photolysis alone and the UV/H₂O₂ process with 6 mg/L H₂O₂ and realistic ng/l to μg/L concentrations of the test compounds.

The di-, and tri-brominated THMs and HAAs were substantially (80-99%) removed by direct UV photolysis mechanism at the same UV/H₂O₂ dose required for removing 95% of geosmin and 65% of 2-methylisoborneol with faster reaction rates for the more bromine substituted compounds. The C-Br bond cleavage is the first step of brominated HAAs degradation by UV photolysis, and followed by either of two second steps: reaction with oxygen producing peroxyl radical or interaction with water molecule causing O-H insertion/H-Br elimination.

Trichloromethane and mono-, di-, and tri-chlorinated HAAs were not substantially removed under the same conditions used for the brominated compounds. The principal removal mechanism was by the reaction with hydroxyl radical for the UV/H₂O₂ process. The second order reaction rate constants were on the order of 10⁶ - 10⁸ M⁻¹ s⁻¹ with faster reaction rates for the less chlorine substituted compounds. Based on the reaction rates, hydrogen and halogen ion balance, and isotope effect, both hydrogen abstraction and electron transfer reaction were involved in the first steps of the chlorinated HAA degradation.

Three odorous aldehydes - heptadienal, decadienal, and nonadienal - were removed faster than geosmin or 2-methylisoborneol, and direct UV photolysis was the principal reaction mechanism for the removal of these unsaturated aldehydes. Hexanal was poorly removed. In sensory tests, new odors such as sweet or chalky odors were produced while the concentration and initial odor intensity of these fishy/grassy-smelling aldehydes were reduced with increasing exposure time to UV/H₂O₂. Carbonyl compounds were detected as products of the UV photolysis of nonadienal. These carbonyls were not removed by further UV irradiation, which was thought to be partially related with production of new odors.

The results indicate that the UV/H₂O₂ is effective to control both odorous compounds and brominated DBPs. This process can be seasonally applied to control both contaminants especially, in the warm summer when both odorants and DBPs have their higher concentrations. Removal of brominated DBPs can be a significant addition to water utilities that have difficulty in meeting regulatory levels for these highly toxic compounds. The result on the removal of odorous aldehydes indicate that new types of odors were produced from the oxidation of odorous aldehydes suggesting sensory test coupled with chemical analysis should be considered in designing oxidation process to control recalcitrant odorants.



Disinfection byproduct, Advanced oxidation process, UV/H₂O₂, Odorant