Understanding soluble arsenate removal kinetics by zerovalent iron media

Nikos Melitas, Jianping Wang, Martha Conklin, Peggy O'Day, James Farrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


Zerovalent iron filings have been proposed as a filter medium for removing arsenic compounds from potable water supplies. This research investigated the kinetics of arsenate removal from aqueous solutions by zerovalent iron media. Batch experiments were performed to determine the effect of the iron corrosion rate on the rate of As(V) removal. Tafel analyses were used to determine the effect of the As(V) concentration on the rate of iron corrosion in anaerobic solutions. As(V) removal in column reactors packed with iron filings was measured over a 1-year period of continuous operation. Comparison of As(V) removal by freely corroding and cathodically protected iron showed that rates of arsenate removal were dependent on the continuous generation of iron oxide adsorption sites. In addition to adsorption site availability, rates of arsenate removal were also limited by mass transfer associated with As(V) diffusion through iron corrosion products. Steady-state removal rates in the column reactor were up to 10 times faster between the inlet-end and the first sampling port than between the first sampling port and the effluent-end of the column. Faster removal near the influent-end of the column was due to a faster rate of iron oxidation in that region. The presence of 100 μg/L As(V) decreased the iron corrosion rate by up to a factor of 5 compared to a blank electrolyte solution. However, increasing the As(V) concentration from 100 to 20 000 μg/L resulted in no further decrease in the iron corrosion rate. The kinetics of arsenate removal ranged between zeroth- and first-order with respectto the aqueous As(V) concentration. The apparent reaction order was dependent on the availability of adsorption sites and on the aqueous As(V) concentration. X-ray absorption spectroscopy analyses showed the presence of iron metal, magnetite (Fe3O4), an Fe(III) oxide phase, and possibly an Fe(II,III) hydroxide phase in the reacted iron filings. These mixed valent oxide phases are not passivating and permit sustained iron corrosion and continuous generation of new sites for As(V) adsorption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2074-2081
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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