Faculty Advisor

John A. Bergendahl

Faculty Advisor

Robert W. Thompson

Faculty Advisor

James C. O'Shaughnessy




This work investigated the combined technology of adsorption on hydrophobic molecular sieves (zeolites) and direct UV (254 nm) photolysis for removing estrone (E1) from water. The target compound estrone belongs to the group of endocrine-disruptor compounds (EDCs) that are raising more and more concern due to increasing evidence of their adverse estrogenic effects on aquatic organisms and humans. Current wastewater treatment processes remove less than 80% of estrone on average. However, because of its strong biological potency, small amounts are still able to exert adverse estrogenic effects on aquatic systems. Consequently, advanced treatment technologies have been investigated in the hope of reaching higher removal efficiency. Adsorption of estrogens on hydrophobic zeolites in this work is a potential new alternative. Based on the hydrophobic nature of estrogens including E1, two types of zeolites, dealuminated Y (DAY) and silicalite-1, and a type of granular activated carbon Centaur® activated carbon (GAC) were evaluated for adsorption capacity. The results demonstrated that DAY is the best adsorbent for E1 in that 99% E1 can be removed by DAY. Silicalite-1 was the least effective. Moreover, adsorption of E1 to DAY is much faster. Estrone reached adsorption equilibrium in 4 hours on DAY versus 8 days for GAC. The adsorption data of DAY for E1 were fit to the Freundlich and Langmuir equations and the maximum adsorption capacity is estimated as 74 mg E1/g DAY. Direct UV photolysis of E1 in solution was also evaluated. Short-wave UV (ë = 254 nm) degraded E1 in solution much more effectively than long-wave UV-light (ë = 365 nm). No significant increase in degradation of E1 in UV photolysis was found with the addition of hydrogen peroxide. The regeneration of E1-contaminated DAY was investigated by a series of adsorption/direct UV (ë = 254nm) irradiation cycles. No significant deterioration of adsorption capacity of DAY was observed over nine adsorption/regeneration cycles.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Civil & Environmental Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





Estrone, zeolite, UV, adsorption, regeneration