MTBE & TBA in Water

24th Apr 2020

MTBE and TBA in Water


MTBE: C5H12O Methyl tert-butyl ether is a chemical compound that is volatile, flammable and colorless. Its presence in water at certain levels leads to an unpleasant taste and health concerns.

TBA: C4H9OH tert-Butanol is a clear liquid that is very soluble in water and occurs naturally as a product of fermentation. It has a camphor-like odor and also poses health concerns to humans and animals at high levels.

MTBE and TBA Removal with Ozone

For this test, 12 g/hr ozone concentration was bubbled into a 1.25 liter water column at 7% concentration by weight at a 2 lpm flow rate. Considering a 10% mass transfer rate, 1.2 g/hr ozone was dissolved into the water.

ozone dosage in a one hour time period.

Test Results

TIME (Minutes) MTBA (ppm) TBA (ppm) ACETONE (ppm) METHYL (ppm) OZONE DOSAGE (mg/l)
0 35000 7600 ND ND 0
30 6200 34000 2000 1000 480
45 28 1800 4400 780 720
60 62 3200 4500 1000 960
90 ND 580 4000 600 1440
120 ND 280 3500 380 1920
180 ND 390 3400 300 2880

* ND = not detectable (below 1 ppm)  ** After 90 minutes the MTBE fell below the not detectable (ND) threshold of 1 ppm.


The spike in TBA at 45 minutes is likely the result of ozone breaking MTBE down into TBA. However, with time, the ozone also removed most of the TBA. It was informative to obtain data on both levels to observe this relationship.

Acetone and methyl acetate were both byproducts of the ozone reactions in this test. Over time, these compounds were also broken down.

Conclusion and Application

Ozone Solutions performed this test for a customer to verify that ozone would be effective in removing MTBE from water. The resulting data indicates that ozone was very effective in our lab testing.