Embedding Fe(0) electrocoagulation in a biologically active As(III) oxidising filter bed

Mrinal Roy*, Erik Kraaijeveld, Jink C. J. Gude, Case M. van Genuchten, Luuk C. Rietveld, Doris van Halem

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Long-term consumption of groundwater containing elevated levels of arsenic (As) can have severe health consequences, including cancer. To effectively remove As, conventional treatment technologies require expensive chemical oxidants to oxidise neutral arsenite (As(III)) in groundwater to negatively charged arsenate (As(V)), which is more easily removed. Rapid sand filter beds used in conventional aeration-filtration to treat anaerobic groundwater can naturally oxidise As(III) through biological processes but require an additional step to remove the generated As(V), adding complexity and cost. This study introduces a novel approach where As(V), produced through biological As(III) oxidation in a sand filter, is effectively removed within the same filter by embedding and operating an iron electrocoagulation (FeEC) system inside the filter. Operating FeEC within the biological filter achieved higher As(III) removal (81 %) compared to operating FeEC in the filter supernatant (67 %). This performance was similar to an analogous embedded-FeEC system treating As(V)-contaminated water (85 %), confirming the benefits of incorporating FeEC in a biological bed for comparable As(III) and As(V) removal. However, operating FeEC in the sand matrix consumed more energy (14 Wh/m3) compared to FeEC operated in a water matrix (7 Wh/m3). The efficiency of As removal increased and energy requirements decreased in such embedded-FeEC systems by deep-bed infiltration of Fe(III)-precipitates, which can be controlled by adjusting flow rate and pH. This study is one of the first to demonstrate the feasibility of embedding FeEC systems in sand filters for groundwater arsenic removal. Such systems capitalise on biological As(III) oxidation in aeration-filtration, effectively eliminating As(V) within the same setup without the need for chemicals or major modifications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number121233
Number of pages10
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Arsenic
  • Drinking water
  • Groundwater
  • Iron electrocoagulation


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