Date of Graduation
Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering
Due to the increasing prevalence of prescription medication over the past few
decades, pharmaceuticals have accumulated in various water sources. This has become a
public health concern because many pharmaceuticals have limited research on the effects
of chronic low-level exposure. According to the World’s Health Organization (WHO),
traces of pharmaceuticals products have been reported in different water sources such as
surface waters, wastewater, groundwater, and drinking water. One pharmaceutical of
interest that has been detected in water sources is carbamazepine. Carbamazepine is a
common pharmaceutical prescribed for the treatment of seizure disorders, neuropathic
pain, and various psychological disorders. It’s mechanism of action is “sodium channel
blocking,” which is the impairment of conduction of sodium ions in sodium channels.
This, in effect, reduces nervous-system conductivity in key areas related to the treated
disorders mentioned above.
Carbamazepine is also not easily biodegradable and current conventional
treatment methods in some drinking water and wastewater facilities do not adequately
remove carbamazepine and other pharmaceuticals from treated
water. While carbamazepine is not federally regulated by the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) under the Safe Water Drinking Act (SWDA) at this time, it does have the
potential for producing adverse health effects in humans. Therefore, being proactive in
finding ways to remove carbamazepine and compounds like it should be encouraged. The
Carbamaza-Clean team designed a bench scale unit as well as an in-home treatment
system using granular activated carbon (GAC) to effectively remove carbamazepine from
water. GAC was chosen for this design because it is inexpensive and does not create byproducts
that are harmful to human health.
Several experiments were conducted to determine the efficiency of the removal of
carbamazepine using two different GACs: coconut shell GAC (CSGAC) and bituminous
coal GAC (BGAC). A packed bed column was constructed to determine if both carbons
could reduce the concentration of carbamazepine from 1 ppm to 1 ppb or lower. The
CSGAC packed bed was able to lower the concentration below 1 ppb at a packed bed
length of 4.4 ft, while the BGAC only required half that (2.2 ft). Both carbons can
remove carbamazepine to the desired concentration; however, the costs vary. An
economic analysis was performed to determine the costs of the carbons. The CSGAC
system would cost $990 for the first year and $589.68 for each following year. The
BGAC system would cost $639 for the first two years, and then $200 every two years
following the initial capital investment.
Carbamazepine, removal, adsorption, drinking water, pharmaceuticals
Wiese, Zachary, "Removal of Carbamazepine from Drinking Water" (2018). Chemical Engineering Undergraduate Honors Theses. 111.