Melamine degradation to bioregenerate granular activated carbon

Laura Piai, Albert van der Wal, Nadine Boelee, Alette Langenhoff*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The industrial chemical melamine is often detected in surface water used for drinking water production, due to its wide application and insufficient removal in conventional wastewater treatment plants. Melamine can be removed from water by adsorption onto granular activated carbon (GAC), nevertheless, GAC needs periodic reactivation in costly and energy intense processes. As an alternative method, GAC can also be regenerated using biomass capable of degrading melamine in a process called bioregeneration. We assessed melamine biodegradation in batch experiments in fully oxic and anoxic, as well as in alternating oxic and anoxic conditions. Additionally, we studied the effect of an additional carbon source on the biodegradation. The most favourable conditions for melamine biodegradation were applied to bioregenerate GAC loaded with melamine. We demonstrate that melamine can be biodegraded in either oxic or anoxic conditions and that melamine degrading biomass can restore at least 28% of the original GAC adsorption capacity. Furthermore, our results indicate that bioregeneration occurs mainly in the largest pore fraction of GAC, impacting adsorption kinetics. Overall, we show that bioregeneration has a large potential for restoring GAC adsorption capacity in industrial wastewater.

Original languageEnglish
Article number125503
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2021


  • Adsorption kinetics
  • Denitrification
  • Nitrification
  • Redox conditions
  • Water treatment


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