Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering

Degree Level



Chemical Engineering


Dr. Mike Ackerson

Committee Member/Reader

Dr. Roy Penney


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 (CBZ) 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 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 by-products 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, activated carbon, WERC