Removal of phosphates and sulphates in a multi-ion system with nitrates


Removal of phosphates and sulphates in a multi-ion system with nitrates

Patricia A. Terry, Megan Olson Hunt, Renee Henning

Eutrophication remains a water quality issue globally, and evidence demonstrates that sulphates in water may interact to release phosphates bound in underlying soil sediments, such that removal of aqueous phosphate may not be adequate to eliminate eutrophication. Further, sulphates promote the formation of cyanobacteria, which creates potentially toxic conditions in affected waterways. This work characterises the effect of phosphates, sulphates, and nitrates on the co-removal of phosphates and sulphates from contaminated water via ion exchange with calcined hydrotalcite, a clay mineral double layer hydroxide. To assess the statistical significance of main effects and interactions between anions on mean residual target anion levels, fixed-effects two- and three-way analyses of variance were used. Langmuir isotherms for single-ion removal are estimated and compared to those for ternary solutions at phosphate, sulphate, and nitrate levels typical for contaminated ground and surface waters. For phosphate removal in the ternary system, the two-way interactions between sulphate and initial phosphate, and between sulphate and nitrate were statistically significant. However, phosphate removal remained high – between 94 and 99% – in all cases, demonstrating that this is a viable removal method. Sulphate removal was also dictated by significant interactions (two- and three-way), but, as with phosphate, the reduction was still successful in general. The findings indicate that while high sulphate levels may not be removed sufficiently so as to prevent eutrophication if phosphates are held in soil sediments, for intermediate and low levels of sulphate, hydrotalcite is a useful material for the co-removal of phosphate and sulphate in eutrophic waters.

Ion Exchange, Hydrotalcite, Phosphate Removal, Nitrate, Langmuir Isotherm

Published online 4/25/2017, 22 pages
Copyright © 2016 by the author(s)
Published under license by Materials Research Forum LLC., Millersville PA, USA

Citation: Patricia A. Terry, Megan Olson Hunt, Renee Henning, ‘Removal of phosphates and sulphates in a multi-ion system with nitrates’, Materials Research Foundations, Vol. 15, pp 171-192, 2017


The article was published as article 7 of the book Applications of Adsorption and Ion Exchange Chromatography in Waste Water Treatment

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