Re-evaluation of sulfate radical based–advanced oxidation processes (SR-AOPs) for treatment of raw municipal landfill leachate

Cuibai Chen, Huan Feng, Yang Deng

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119 Scopus citations


Sulfate radical (SO4[rad]-) -based advanced oxidation processes (SR-AOPs) have proven effective for simultaneously removing refractory dissolved organic matter (DOM) and ammonia in municipal landfill leachates. However, the knowledge on the competition of leachate DOM and ammonia for SO4[rad]-, the utilization efficiency of persulfate, as well as the reaction pathways and final products of ammonia oxidation during the SR-AOP treatment remains little known, thereby leading to a lack of a comprehensive evaluation of the emerging leachate treatment technology. The objective of this study was to further investigate the performance of a thermally activated persulfate system for treatment of a mature landfill leachate and re-evaluate the benefits and restrictions of SR-AOPs for leachate treatment. The laboratory experimental results showed that removal patterns of chemical oxygen demand (COD) and ammonia relied heavily upon the dose of persulfate that could be thermally activated to produce reactive sulfate radicals, reflecting the competition of leachate DOM, ammonia, and non-target leachate constituents for SO4[rad]-. The utilization efficiency of the added persulfate could be more efficiently utilized for removing the two target leachate pollutants at a lower persulfate dose, whereas more persulfate was wasted due to the reactions with non-target leachate constituents (e.g. Cl and CO32−) and/or self-decomposition with the increasing persulfate dose. During the treatment, ammonia was oxidized, via the direct attack of SO4[rad]- and/or by molecular chlorine produced from the reactions of chloride and sulfate radicals, into nitrate and nitrogen gas, while nitrite was not detected. Of importance, this study highlighted three potentially negative impacts of SR-AOPs on the quality of treated leachate, including accumulation of total dissolved solids, the production of undesirable nitrate, and the pH decrease due to the continuous formation of hydrochloric acid. Therefore, the three issues should be carefully evaluated when a SR-AOP is selected for leachate treatment. Because these impacts become less pronounced with a decreasing persulfate dose, SR-AOPs as a pre-treatment, which is achieved at a relatively low persulfate dose, may be an appropriate option for the SR-AOP application to leachate treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-107
Number of pages8
JournalWater Research
StatePublished - 15 Apr 2019


  • Advanced oxidation processes
  • Ammonia
  • Chemical oxidation
  • Dissolved organic matter
  • Landfill leachate
  • Sulfate radicals


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