Cooling tower water treatment using a combination of electrochemical oxidation and constructed wetlands

Pradip Saha*, Thomas V. Wagner, Jiahao Ni, Alette A.M. Langenhoff, Harry Bruning, Huub H.M. Rijnaarts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


A substantial part of the freshwater used in the industry is consumed in cooling towers. Cooling towers discharge saline cooling tower blowdown (CTBD), and the reuse of CTBD in the cooling tower can lower the industrial freshwater footprint. This reuse requires CTBD desalination and a pre-treatment that removes organic chemicals before physico-chemical desalination technologies to be applied efficiently. In the present study, the pre-treatment of CTBD by a combination of electrochemical oxidation (EO) with a boron-doped diamond (BDD) or mixed-metal oxide (MMO) anode and a vertical flow constructed wetland (VFCW) was assessed in both possible configurations. The integrated VFCW-EO systems removed more organic chemicals, such as COD, TOC, and the corrosion inhibitor benzotriazole than the EO-VFCW systems. However, the EO resulted in highly toxic effluent to Vibrio fischeri and the plants in the VFCW. This toxicity was the result of the production of unwanted chlorinated organic compounds and ClO3 and ClO4 by both the BDD- and MMO-anode during EO. These toxic EO by-products were removed substantially in the VFCW during EO-VFCW treatment but did impact the removal efficiency and viability of the VFCW. Moreover, significant water loss was observed in the VFCW due to evapotranspiration. In conclusion, the negative impact of EO effluent on the VFCW and evapotranspiration of the VFCW should be considered during application.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-51
JournalProcess Safety and Environmental Protection
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2020


  • Benzotriazole
  • Boron-doped diamond anode
  • Chlorinated by-products
  • Mixed-metal oxide anode
  • Vertical-flow constructed wetland


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