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Evaluation of industrial by-products and natural minerals for phosphate adsorption from subsurface drainage

Sellner, Bjorn M., Hua, Guanghui, Ahiablame, Laurent M., Trooien, Todd P., Hay, Christopher H., Kjaersgaard, Jeppe
Environmental technology 2019 v.40 no.6 pp. 756-767
adsorption, bioreactors, calcite, chemical bonding, dissolved organic matter, drainage water, environmental technology, filters, industrial byproducts, iron, kinetics, limestone, nitrates, pH, phosphates, phosphorus, slags, soil, sorption isotherms, steel, subsurface drainage, surface water, temperature, wood chips, zeolites
Agricultural subsurface drainage has been recognized as an important pathway for phosphorus transport from soils to surface waters. Reactive permeable filters are a promising technology to remove phosphate from subsurface drainage. Three natural minerals (limestone, zeolite, and calcite) and five industrial by-products (steel slag, iron filings, and three recycled steel by-products) were evaluated for phosphate removal from subsurface drainage using batch adsorption experiments. Phosphate adsorption onto these materials was characterized by Langmuir isotherm and second-order kinetic models. The adsorption capacities increased by factors of 1.2–2.5 when temperature was increased from 5°C to 30°C. Industrial by-products exhibited phosphate adsorption capacities that were one order of magnitude higher than natural minerals. Medium-sized steel chips exhibited high phosphate adsorption capacities (1.64–3.38 mg/g) across different temperatures, pH values, organic matter concentrations, and real drainage water matrixes. The strong chemical bonds between phosphate and steel by-products prevented the release of adsorbed phosphate back to the solution. The steel by-product filter can be paired with a woodchip bioreactor for nitrate and phosphate removal. It is suggested that the phosphate filter be connected to a woodchip bioreactor after the startup phase to minimize the impact of dissolved organic matter on phosphate adsorption. The results of this study suggest that the low-cost steel by-products examined could be used as effective adsorption media for phosphate removal from subsurface drainage.