In this research, ultrasound (US; 26 kHz) application was evaluated as tertiary treatment of treated municipal wastewater coming from conventional activated sludge (AS) and constructed wetland (CW) systems. The degree of disinfection was evaluated through the total (TC) and faecal (FC) coliforms and by somatic coliphages (SCs) determinations. The experiments were carried out without temperature control at times of 200, 400 and 600 s and with temperature control (298.1 K) at 600, 1200 and 1800 s. Changes in the concentrations of C, N and P were also studied. The results shown that treatment without temperature control allowed 100% inactivation for TC, FC and SC at 600 s, while maximum with temperature was achieved at 1800 s. Temperature was an important factor influencing pathogens inactivation. In both cases, microorganism concentrations complied with different international guidelines for the reuse of treated wastewater. At 1800 s sonication concentrations of biochemical oxygen demand, chemical oxygen demand and total phosphorus were reduced 39.5, 39.4, 50.0 and 37.3% TN in the AS-treated water and 24.0, 49.8, 20.2 and 7.7% in the CW-treated water, respectively. In both cases, the formation of and radicals is most likely related to the observed pollutants removal. While energy consumption of ultrasound was higher than other advanced treatments such as electrocoagulation, its implementation allows the simultaneous removal of pathogens and organic pollutants without the generation of toxic by-products. In conclusion, ultrasound can be implemented as tertiary treatment of municipal wastewater for the removal of biological and organic pollution, according to reuse guidelines in terms of pathogens presence.
Keywords: Ultrasound; coliforms and coliphages; wastewater and water stress.