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Aqueous phosphate removal using nanoscale zero-valent iron


Nanoscale zero-valent iron (NZVI) particles have been used for the remediation of a wide variety of contaminants. NZVI particles have high reactivity because of high reactive surface area. In this study, NZVI slurry was successfully used for phosphate removal and recovery. Batch studies conducted using different concentrations of phosphate (1, 5, and 10 mg PO4 3−-P/L with 400 mg NZVI/L) removed ~96 to 100 % phosphate in 30 min. Efficacy of the NZVI in phosphate removal was found to 13.9 times higher than micro-ZVI (MZVI) particles with same NZVI and MZVI surface area concentrations used in batch reactors. Ionic strength, sulfate, nitrate, and humic substances present in the water affected in phosphate removal by NZVI but they may not have any practical significance in phosphate removal in the field. Phosphate recovery batch study indicated that better recovery is achieved at higher pH and it decreased with lowering of the pH of the aqueous solution. Maximum phosphate recovery of ~78 % was achieved in 30 min at pH 12. The successful rapid removal of phosphate by NZVI from aqueous solution is expected to have great ramification for cleaning up nutrient rich waters.

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This project was completed with support from Civil Engineering Department at North Dakota State University. Fellowship offered to Almeelbi by the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission to the US is thankfully acknowledged. The help from the members of Nanoenvirology Research Group (NRG) and Environmental Engineering Laboratory of North Dakota State University is thankfully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Achintya Bezbaruah.

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Special Issue Editors: Mamadou Diallo, Neil Fromer, Myung S. Jhon

This article is part of the Topical Collection on Nanotechnology for Sustainable Development

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Almeelbi, T., Bezbaruah, A. Aqueous phosphate removal using nanoscale zero-valent iron. J Nanopart Res 14, 900 (2012).

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  • Phosphate
  • Nanoscale zero-valent iron (NZVI)
  • Microscale zero-valent iron (MZVI)
  • Phosphate removal
  • Phosphate recovery
  • Adsorption
  • Eutrophication
  • Environmental remediation
  • Sustainable development