Pharmaceuticals and personal care products have raised significant concerns because of their extensive use, presence in aquatic environments, and potential impacts on wildlife and humans. Carbamazepine was the most frequently detected pharmaceutical residue among pharmaceuticals and personal care products. Nevertheless, the low removal efficiency of carbamazepine by conventional wastewater treatment plants was due to resistance to biodegradation at low concentrations. A membrane bioreactor (MBR) has recently attracted attention as a new separation process for wastewater treatment in cities and industries because of its effectiveness in separating pollutants and its tolerance to high or shock loadings. In the current research, the main and interaction effects of three operating parameters, including hydraulic retention time (12-24 h), dissolved oxygen (1.5-5.5 mg/L), and sludge retention time (5-15 days), on removing carbamazepine, chemical oxygen demand, ammonia nitrogen, and phosphorus using ceramic membranes was investigated by applying a two-level full-factorial design analysis. Optimum dissolved oxygen, hydraulic retention time, and sludge retention time were 1.7 mg/L, 24 h, and 5 days, respectively. The research results showed the applicability of the MBR to wastewater treatment with a high carbamazepine loading rate and the removal of nutrients.
Keywords: carbamazepine; full-factorial design; hospital wastewater; membrane bioreactor; operating parameters.