Mn(III) oxidation technology has attracted increasing interest in recent years because of its fast decontamination kinetics and second-pollution-free characteristic. Whether it can be used as a pre-oxidation step to enhance conventional coagulation process remains to be evaluated. Herein, an Fe-coagulation/sedimentation process combined with Mn(III) pre-oxidation (Mn(III)+C/S), hypochlorite pre-oxidation (Cl2+C/S), and permanganate pre-oxidation (PM+C/S) was applied to treat simulated micro-polluted raw water. The removal performance of routine water quality indices (turbidity, dissolved organic carbon, total nitrogen, nitrate-nitrogen, ammonia-nitrogen, Pb(II), and Cr(VI)) and the emerging pollutants (acesulfame, carbamazepine, bisphenol S, and nano-ZnO) created by these three processes were researched. The mechanism of how Mn(III) pre-oxidation influences C/S was explored by identifying the transformation products of Mn(III), measuring the timely variation of flocs’ zeta potential and size, and scanning flocs’ micromorphology. Compared to Cl2+C/S and PM+C/S, Mn(III)+C/S exhibited its superiority in removing dissolved organic carbon (72.9%), total nitrogen (31.74%), and emerging pollutants (21.78%–93.49%). The enhanced removal of these contaminants by Mn(III)+C/S found its explanation in the strong oxidation power of Mn(III) and the multiple roles of in-situ formed MnO2 (e.g., flocculation core, adsorption co-precipitant, and densification agent). The acute toxicity tests confirmed that water treated by Mn(III)+C/S did not show a significant change in the associated toxicity. The findings of the present study indicate that Mn(III) oxidation technology shows great potential as an alternative to pre-oxidation technology of waterworks.
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