Natural organic matter

Natural organic matter (NOM) is a significant constituent of the overall composition of surface waters. In general, NOM includes humic substances (HS) and organic matter produced by cyanobacteria and algae, i.e., algal organic matter (AOM). Despite being of natural origin, NOM exhibits adverse effects with regard to drinking water production – NOM impairs organoleptic properties of water, serves as precursors of hazardous disinfection by-products (DBPs), and in case of AOM, toxic substances (cyanotoxins) might be present. NOM (and particularly AOM) is difficult to remove during drinking water treatment and moreover, it influences the removal of other pollutants. Within this field, we focus for instance on the characterisation of NOM (AOM) with emphasis on the properties that affect their behaviour during water treatment processes, and on describing the relationships between NOM properties and its removability.

Research Activities

  • Characterisation of NOM (hydrophilicity/hydrophobicity, molecular weight distribution, surface charge, nature of functional groups, proportions of peptides/proteins and carbohydrates in AOM composition, etc.)
  • Investigation of the relationships between NOM properties and its behaviour and treatability during distinct water treatment processes (coagulation, adsorption, membrane filtration, etc.)
  • Research on the effects of oxidation processes on NOM removability
  • Investigation of the effects of ambient conditions during the growth of different algal/cyanobacterial species on the character and properties of produced AOM