Kinetics of soluble chromium removal from contaminated water by zerovalent iron media: Corrosion inhibition and passive oxide effects

Nikos Melitas, Ouatfa Chuffe-Moscoso, James Farrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

219 Scopus citations


Permeable reactive barriers containing zerovalent iron are being increasingly employed for in situ remediation of groundwater contaminated with redox active metals and chlorinated organic compounds. This research investigated the effect of chromate concentration on its removal from solution by zerovalent iron. Removal rates of aqueous Cr(VI) by iron wires were measured in batch experiments for initial chromium concentrations ranging from 100 to 10 000 μg/L. Chromate removal was also measured in columns packed with zerovalent iron filings over this same concentration range. Electrochemical measurements were made to determine the free corrosion potential and corrosion rate of the iron reactants. In both the batch and column reactors, absolute rates of chromium removal declined with increasing chromate concentration. Corrosion current measurements indicated that the rate of iron corrosion decreased with increasing Cr(VI) concentrations between 0 and 5000 μg/L. At a Cr(VI) concentration of 10 000 μg/L, Tafel polarization diagrams showed that chromium removal was affected by its diffusion rate through a passivating oxide film and by the ability of iron to release Fe2+ at anodic sites. In contrast, water reduction was not mass transfer limited, but chromium did decrease the exchange current for the hydrogen evolution reaction. Even at the most passivating concentration of 10 000 μg/L, effluent Cr(VI) concentrations in the column reactors reached a steady state, indicating that passivation had also reached a steady state. Although chromate contributes to iron surface passivation, the removal rates are still sufficiently fast for in situ iron barriers to be effective for Cr(VI) removal at most environmentally relevant concentrations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3948-3953
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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