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Further transformation of the primary ozonation products of tramadol- and venlafaxine N-oxide: Mechanistic and structural considerations

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  • Suman Kharel
  • ,
  • Peter R. Tentscher, Aalborg University
  • ,
  • Kai Bester

Ozonation has been used to effectively remove micropollutants from the secondary effluent in several wastewater treatment plants. It is known that ozonation transforms tertiary amine compounds into their respective N-oxides, however in an earlier study a mass balance could not be closed at elevated ozone concentrations, leading to the assumption that more ozonation products are possible. This study was conducted to elucidate which (hitherto unknown) ozonation products can be formed from venlafaxine and tramadol when ozonating wastewater. Ozonation experiments were performed with tramadol and venlafaxine N-oxide in two different set-ups. Both tramadol- and venlafaxine N-oxide degraded during ozonation in pure (deionized) water in both semi-continuous and batch mode ozonation set-ups. 13 and 17 new transformation products were detected from tramadol- and venlafaxine N-oxide respectively, using high resolution mass spectrometry with ESI(+) ionization. Empirical chemical formulas were proposed based on the determination of the exact masses and interpretation of the product ion spectra. These transformation products result from the addition of one to three oxygen atoms and removal of C, –CH2, C2H2, C3H6, etc., from the parent molecule, respectively. Quenching experiments suggested that most of the transformation products originated from the direct reaction with ozone (eight for tramadol N-oxide and ten for venlafaxine N-oxide), whereas fewer products originated from the reaction with OH radicals (three for tramadol N-oxide and three for venlafaxine N-oxide). Reaction mechanisms and chemical structures of products are proposed, based on the available active sites and past literature on ozone reaction mechanisms. The experimental results are compared to theory and literature on ozone reactive sites and ozone reaction mechanisms. All in all this shows that there can be multiple ozonation products, and ozonation pathways can be complex, even if initially only one ozonation product is formed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number157259
JournalScience of the total Environment
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

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© 2022 The Authors

    Research areas

  • Pharmaceuticals, Reaction mechanism, Removal, Tertiary amines, Tramadol N-oxide ozonation, Transformation products, Venlafaxine N-oxide ozonation

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