Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering

Degree Level



Chemical Engineering


Ackerson, Michael

Committee Member/Reader

Penney, Roy


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.[1] 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.[2]

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, Adsorption, Granular Activated Carbon, Ozone Oxidation, WERC, Nano-filtration