Electrochemical and spectroscopic study of arsenate removal from water using zero-valent iron media

James Farrell, Jian Ping Wang, Peggy O'Day, Martha Conklin

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224 Scopus citations


This study investigated the mechanisms involved in removing arsenate from drinking water supplies using zero-valent iron media. Batch experiments utilizing iron wires suspended in anaerobic arsenate solutions were performed to determine arsenate removal rates as a function of the arsenate solution concentration. Corrosion rates of the iron wires were determined as a function of elapsed time using Tafel analysis. The removal kinetics in the batch reactors were best described by a dual-rate model in which arsenate removal was pseudo-first-order at low concentrations and approached zero-order in the limit of high arsenate concentrations. The presence of arsenate decreased iron corrosion rates as compared to those in blank 3 mM CaSO4 background electrolyte solutions. However, constant corrosion rates were attained after approximately 10 days elapsed, indicating that the passivation processes had reached steady state. The cathodic Tafel slopes were the same in the arsenate and the blank electrolyte solutions. This indicates that water was the primary oxidant for iron corrosion and that arsenate did not directly oxidize the iron wires. The anodic Tafel slopes were greater in the arsenate solutions, indicating that arsenate formed complexes with iron corrosion products released at anodic sites on the iron surfaces. Ion chromatography analyses indicated that there was no measurable reduction of As(V) to As(III). X-ray absorption spectroscopy analyses indicated that all arsenic associated with the zero-valent iron surfaces was in the +5 oxidation state. Interatomic arsenic - iron distances determined from EXAFS analyses were consistent with bidentate corner-sharing among arsenate tetrahedra and iron octahedra. Results from this study show that under conditions applicable to drinking water treatment, arsenate removal by zero-valent iron media involves surface complexation only and does not involve reduction to metallic arsenic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2026-2032
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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