A ligno-cellulosic bio-adsorbent derived from sawdust waste for the removal of meropenem antibiotic dissolved in water

Tretsiakova-McNally, S., Solan, B., Currie, R., Akinsanmi, O., Arnscheidt, J., McDermott, R. and Coleman, H., Ulster University


The discharge of antibiotics into the aquatic environment is a serious concern for scientists and engineers around the world, due to the development of antimicrobial resistance. The situation is complicated by the dwindling supply of effective antibiotic treatments for so called superbug infections. Therefore, an effective method for the removal of these contaminants from wastewaters is imperative. This study explores the possibility of using ligno-cellulosic substrates derived from sawdust waste as bio-adsorbents of meropenem antibiotic dissolved in water. These bio-adsorbents can be readily incorporated within existing tertiary treatment filters at wastewater treatment works. The sawdust was used in two forms: untreated fibres and the substrate obtained following a treatment of the raw sawdust with 2M sulfuric acid. The high level of meropenem removal from contaminated water was comparable with current industry standard treatment (activated carbon), which is expensive. For example, the adsorption of meropenem on raw sawdust packed in a fixed filtration bed resulted in a 92% removal, while the use of treated sawdust had led to a 96% removal of meropenem from its aqueous solutions. Thus, the ligno-cellulosic substrate from raw and acid-treated sawdust waste has the potential to be an effective low-cost bio-adsorbent of meropenem dissolved in water.

Keywords: Adsorption, antibiotics, antimicrobial resistance, ligno-cellulosic substrate, meropenem, sawdust, wastewater treatment

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