Cost-Effective Solution to Reducing Vancomycin Concentration in Wastewater

Benjamin Delmond, Svetlana Tretsiakova-McNally, B Solan, Rodney McDermott, Alexandre Audoin

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One of the significant challenges in modern society is to devise environmentally benign routes to address the
emerging post-treatment contaminants, for example antibiotics, in our natural and manmade watercourses. It
is well-recognised that antibiotic resistance is often originated within wastewater treatment plants (Pazada et
al., 2019). Traditionally, activated carbon is used at wastewater treatment plants as an efficient adsorbent of
antibiotic molecules or their metabolites suspended or dissolved in wastewaters. However, this material has
high production and reactivation costs, coupled with a significant carbon footprint.
Our ongoing research proposes a more sustainable and cost-effective solution to the problem in the form of
chemically modified ligno-cellulosic waste - sawdust. This unwanted material was applied as the adsorbent
to the model systems containing 50-200 ppm of vancomycin dissolved in distilled water. It was found that
such adsorbents are highly effective for reducing the concentration of vancomycin in contaminated waters.
Indeed, the levels of antibiotic removal reached 65% when sawdust from mixed tree species was used, and
57% in the case of ash tree sawdust. Analysis of the adsorption isotherms indicated a monolayer adsorption
of vancomycin onto the sawdust particles. This was characterised by a homogeneous adsorption surface with
identical adsorption sites.
These preliminary findings indicate the feasibility of converting the sawdust waste into a novel means for
wastewater treatment capable of dealing with antimicrobial pollutants. The simplicity of the method offers
many developing economies sustainable means of managing this escalating problem.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 20 Jun 2022
Event32nd Irish Environmental Researchers Colloquium - Ulster University, Belfast
Duration: 20 Jun 202222 Jun 2022
Conference number: 32


Conference32nd Irish Environmental Researchers Colloquium
Abbreviated titleEnviron 2022
Internet address


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