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Bioresour Technol. 2015 Oct;193:523-33. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2015.06.091. Epub 2015 Jun 25.

A critical review on characterization strategies of organic matter for wastewater and water treatment processes.

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NUS Environmental Research Institute, National University of Singapore, 5A Engineering Drive 1, T-Lab Building, Singapore 117411, Singapore.
School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Technology Sydney, PO Box 123, Broadway, NSW 2007, Australia.
School of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Tokyo University of Technology, Katakura 1404-1, Hachioji, Tokyo 1920982, Japan.
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, National University of Singapore, 1 Engineering Drive 2, Singapore 117576, Singapore. Electronic address:


The presence of organic matter (OM) in raw wastewater, treated wastewater effluents, and natural water samples has been known to cause many problems in wastewater treatment and water reclamation processes, such as treatability, membrane fouling, and the formation of potentially toxic by-products during wastewater treatment. This paper summarizes the current knowledge on the methods for characterization and quantification of OM in water samples in relation to wastewater and water treatment processes including: (i) characterization based on the biodegradability; (ii) characterization based on particle size distribution; (iii) fractionation based on the hydrophilic/hydrophobic properties; (iv) characterization based on the molecular weight (MW) size distribution; and (v) characterization based on fluorescence excitation emission matrix. In addition, the advantages, disadvantages and applications of these methods are discussed in detail. The establishment of correlations among biodegradability, hydrophobic/hydrophilic fractions, MW size distribution of OM, membrane fouling and formation of toxic by-products potential is highly recommended for further studies.


Activated sludge models (ASMs); COD fractionation; Chemical oxygen demand (COD); Dissolved organic matter (DOM); Molecular weight size distribution

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