Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 3127–3137 | Cite as

Electrocoagulation of colloidal biogenic selenium

  • Lucian C. Staicu
  • Eric D. van Hullebusch
  • Piet N. L. Lens
  • Elizabeth A. H. Pilon-Smits
  • Mehmet A. Oturan
Research Article


Colloidal elemental selenium (Se(0)) adversely affects membrane separation processes and aquatic ecosystems. As a solution to this problem, we investigated for the first time the removal potential of Se(0) by electrocoagulation process. Colloidal Se(0) was produced by a strain of Pseudomonas fluorescens and showed limited gravitational settling. Therefore, iron (Fe) and aluminum (Al) sacrificial electrodes were used in a batch reactor under galvanostatic conditions. The best Se(0) turbidity removal (97 %) was achieved using iron electrodes at 200 mA. Aluminum electrodes removed 96 % of colloidal Se(0) only at a higher current intensity (300 mA). At the best Se(0) removal efficiency, electrocoagulation using Fe electrode removed 93 % of the Se concentration, whereas with Al electrodes the Se removal efficiency reached only 54 %. Due to the less compact nature of the Al flocs, the Se-Al sediment was three times more voluminous than the Se-Fe sediment. The toxicity characteristic leaching procedure (TCLP) test showed that the Fe-Se sediment released Se below the regulatory level (1 mg L−1), whereas the Se concentration leached from the Al-Se sediment exceeded the limit by about 20 times. This might be related to the mineralogical nature of the sediments. Electron scanning micrographs showed Fe-Se sediments with a reticular structure, whereas the Al-Se sediments lacked an organized structure. Overall, the results obtained showed that the use of Fe electrodes as soluble anode in electrocoagulation constitutes a better option than Al electrodes for the electrochemical sedimentation of colloidal Se(0).


Elemental selenium Colloids Electrocoagulation Aluminum electrodes Iron electrodes TCLP 



The authors would like to thank the European Commission for providing financial support through the Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate Programme ETeCoS3 (Environmental Technologies for Contaminated Solids, Soils and Sediments) under the grant agreement FPA no. 2010-0009. A special thanks to Dr. David Huguenot and Dr. Rossana Combes for their respective ICP-OES and ESEM expert technical assistance. The analytical part (ICP-OES) was supported by a grant of the Region Ile de France.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lucian C. Staicu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Eric D. van Hullebusch
    • 2
  • Piet N. L. Lens
    • 1
  • Elizabeth A. H. Pilon-Smits
    • 3
  • Mehmet A. Oturan
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Engineering and Water TechnologyUNESCO-IHE Institute for Water EducationDelftThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Laboratoire Géomatériaux et Environnement, EA 4508, UPEMUniversité Paris-EstMarne-la-Vallée, Cedex 2France
  3. 3.Biology DepartmentColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

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