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Fractionation and identification of iron-phosphorus compounds in sewage sludge

Zhang, Bingqian, Wang, Lin, Li, Yongmei
Chemosphere 2019 v.223 pp. 250-256
Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, chemical equilibrium, computer software, ferrihydrite, fractionation, hematite, iron, iron phosphates, lepidocrocite, models, phosphorus, sewage sludge, wastewater treatment
Iron (Fe) salts are widely used to remove phosphorus (P) in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Understanding the existing species of iron-phosphorus compounds (FePs) in sludge is conducive to P recovery. In this study, the chemical equilibrium modeling software, sequential chemical extraction methods and instrumental analytical techniques were used to establish a reliable method for fractionation and identification of FePs in sewage sludge. Five FePs-containing sludge samples obtained in the laboratory or from WWTPs were investigated. Modified chemical extraction methods for P and Fe fractionations combined with Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) analysis are preferable for qualitative and quantitative identification of FePs in sewage sludge. The analytical results revealed that more than half of P was bound to Fe in all the sludge samples. Approximately 83% and 14% of Fe was present as iron phosphates in the samples prepared in the laboratory with Fe(III) dosed to a phosphate solution and lab-scale secondary effluent, respectively. Ferrihydrite and hematite were the dominant iron oxides in these two samples, respectively. In the sludge samples collected from WWTPs, Fe bound to iron oxides (71%), mainly hematite, was the dominant Fe fraction in the returned sludge. Mature iron hydroxyphosphate together with some lepidocrocite was the dominant FePs in both the thickened sludge and mixed sludge before digestion.