Phenols, an industrial pollutant, can now be treated with plants!

Lay summary by Alex Stefanakis


A research group in Germany applied effectively the technology of constructed wetlands planted with common rush species for the treatment and removal of a hazardous pollutant, i.e., phenolic substances, from industrial wastewater.

Pollution generated from industrial facilities such as the petro-chemical industry and coke production plants, represents today a major environmental issue. Wastewaters produced from these industrial plants contain hazardous pollutants, namely various phenolic compounds and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which pose a threat to the ecosystems and the human health. The established technology for the treatment of these wastewaters is expensive and with problematic operation. Therefore, the need to find an alternative, cost-efficient and environmentally friendly technology is today increasing.

This research study focused on the use the eco-tech systems of Constructed Wetlands to treat these industrial wastewaters. The researchers tested a pilot-scale unit of Constructed Wetland, in order to investigate the performance of the system and better understand these processes and parameters that regulate the removal of these pollutants.

The results of this study showed that this alternative technology can effectively remove phenolic compounds from industrial wastewaters. The researchers managed to gain a deeper insight into the processes and conditions that favour the removal rates. This study is a step forward towards the better understanding and improved design of Constructed Wetland systems and their implementation for special wastewater treatment such as industrial wastewaters.

For further information

Read the Ecological Engineering original research article which this summary is based on Removal of dimethylphenols from an artificial wastewater in a laboratory-scale wetland system planted with Juncus effusus (December 2014).

Visit the profile of the research ambassador, Alex Stefanakis, who wrote this summary.

STM Digest is a collection of lay summaries published next to original research articles on ScienceDirect, provided free of charge, and accessible to everyone.

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