Environmental catalysis and materials

Comparison of quartz sand, anthracite, shale and biological ceramsite for adsorptive removal of phosphorus from aqueous solution


Cheng Jiang , Liyue Jia , Bo Zhang , Yiliang He , George Kirumba

DOI:10.1016/S1001-0742(13)60410-6

Received March 07, 2013,Revised May 07, 2013, Accepted , Available online January 27, 2014

Volume ,2014,Pages 466-477

The choice of substrates with high phosphorus adsorption capacity is vital for sustainable phosphorus removal from waste water in constructed wetlands. In this study, four substrates were used: quartz sand, anthracite, shale and biological ceramsite. These substrate samples were characterized by X-ray diffractometry and scanning electron microscopy studies for their mineral components (chemical components) and surface characteristics. The dynamic experimental results revealed the following ranking order for total phosphorus (TP) removal efficiency: anthracite > biological ceramsite > shale > quartz sand. The adsorptive removal capacities for TP using anthracite, biological ceramsite, shale and quartz sand were 85.87, 81.44, 59.65, and 55.98 mg/kg, respectively. Phosphorus desorption was also studied to analyze the substrates' adsorption efficiency in wastewater treatment as well as the substrates' ability to be reused for treatment. It was noted that the removal performance for the different forms of phosphorus was dependent on the nature of the substrate and the adsorption mechanism. A comparative analysis showed that the removal of particulate phosphorus was much easier using shale. Whereas anthracite had the highest soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) adsorptive capacity, biological ceramsite had the highest dissolved organic phosphorus (DOP) removal capacity. Phosphorus removal by shale and biological ceramsite was mainly through chemical adsorption, precipitation or biological adsorption. On the other hand, phosphorus removal through physical adsorption (electrostatic attraction or ion exchange) was dominant in anthracite and quartz sand.

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