Faculty Advisor

Bergendahl, John A.


Chemical oxidation of organic contaminants in water can be an effective treatment process. However, reactants must be added to the water. This is a disadvantage as the reactants may not be completely removed by the oxidation reactions, and subsequent processes may be necessary to remove the added chemicals. This project consisted of laboratory experiments and compound analyses to evaluate the feasibility of using membranes to separate the oxidation reactions, and therefore the reactants, from the water that is being remediated. Proof of concept was established in the laboratory using dialysis tubing. Experiments were designed and performed on a bench scale; the results have been used to design a large-scale process which could be used at a treatment facility. The capstone design component includes design of oxidant dosing, membrane separation process, monitoring and control, and performance assessment. Fenton's oxidation, a process in which hydrogen peroxide is used in conjunction with iron to generate hydroxyl radicals for chemical oxidation was used to remediate the contaminant MTBE. The reactants were contained in a hydrophobic membrane (dialysis tubing), which was submerged in water contaminated by MTBE. The membrane repelled the water, but allowed the contaminant to pass through and be destroyed - the hydrogen peroxide was partially used up, and most of the iron remained inside the tubing, allowing for it to be removed at the end of the treatment process. Experiments were performed using water containing a 300 parts per million (ppm) level of MTBE, which was easily measured using a COD test.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Date Accepted

January 2004


Electrical Engineering

Project Type

Major Qualifying Project


Restricted-WPI community only

Advisor Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering