Organic de-icing chemicals, such as propylene glycol and potassium formate, cause environmental degradation in receiving water if left untreated, due to the high organic load resulting in oxygen depletion. Biofilters are commonly used for the treatment of biodegradable organic carbon in water treatment. This study investigated the potential for using biofilters for treating organic de-icing compounds. Lab-scale adsorption tests using filter media made of crushed clay (Filtralite) and granular activated carbon were conducted. Further, a column filtration experiment testing two different crushed clay size ranges was carried out investigating the effect of filter media depth, nutrient addition, and filtration rate. The surrogate parameter used to monitor the removal of de-icing chemicals was dissolved organic carbon (DOC). The adsorption test showed no significant adsorption of DOC was observed. The column test showed that the most active separation occurred in the first ~20 cm of the filter depth. This was confirmed by results from (1) water quality analysis (i.e., DOC removal and adenosine tri-phosphate (ATP) measurement); and (2) calculations based on a filtration performance analysis (Iwasaki model) and filter hydraulic evaluation (Lindquist diagram). The results showed that, for the highest C:N:P ratio tested (molar ratio of 24:7:1), 50–60% DOC removal was achieved. The addition of nutrients was found to be important for determining the biofilter performance.
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