Phosphate is a vital nutrient for life but its discharge from wastewater effluents can lead to eutrophication. Adsorption can be used as effluent polishing step to reduce phosphate to very low concentrations. Adsorbent reusability is an important parameter to make the adsorption process economically feasible. This implies that the adsorbent can be regenerated and used over several cycles without appreciable performance decline. In the current study, we have studied the phosphate adsorption and reusability of commercial iron oxide based adsorbents for wastewater effluent. Effects of adsorbent properties like particle size, surface area, type of iron oxide, and effects of some competing ions were determined. Moreover the effects of regeneration methods, which include an alkaline desorption step and an acid wash step, were studied. It was found that reducing the adsorbent particle size increased the phosphate adsorption of porous adsorbents significantly. Amongst all the other parameters, calcium had the greatest influence on phosphate adsorption and adsorbent reusability. Phosphate adsorption was enhanced by co-adsorption of calcium, but calcium formed surface precipitates such as calcium carbonate. These surface precipitates affected the adsorbent reusability and needed to be removed by implementing an acid wash step. The insights from this study are useful in designing optimal regeneration procedures and improving the lifetime of phosphate adsorbents used for wastewater effluent polishing.
Bibliographical noteAccepted Author Manuscript
- Calcium adsorption
- Phosphate adsorption
- Surface precipitation
- Wastewater effluent