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Filter materials for phosphorus removal from wastewater in treatment wetlands—A review

Vohla, Christina, Kõiv, Margit, Bavor, H. John, Chazarenc, Florent, Mander, Ülo
Ecological engineering 2011 v.37 no.1 pp. 70-89
adsorbents, batch systems, calcium, calcium oxide, constructed wetlands, ecosystem engineering, fertilizers, filters, heavy metals, industrial byproducts, pH, phosphorus, slags, wastewater, wastewater treatment
This paper aims to collect and analyse existing information on different filter media used for phosphorus (P) removal from wastewater in constructed wetlands. The most commonly used materials are categorized as natural materials (considered in 39 papers), industrial byproducts (25 papers) and man-made products (10 papers). A majority of studies on sorbents have been carried out in lab-scale systems as batch experiments, and only very few studies have highlighted results on full-scale systems. Among the great variety of filter media studied, most of materials had a pH level >7 and high Ca (CaO) content. The highest P-removal capacities were reported for various industrial byproducts (up to 420g P kg⁻¹ for some furnace slags), followed by natural materials (maximum 40g P kg⁻¹ for heated opoka) and man-made filter media (maximum 12g P kg⁻¹ for Filtralite). We found a significant positive Spearman Rank Order Correlation between the P retention and CaO and Ca content of filter materials (R²=0.51 and 0.43, respectively), whereas the relation of P retention to pH level was weak (R²=0.22) but significant. There is probably an optimal level of hydraulic loading rate at which the P removal is the highest. Additional important factors determining the applicability of filter materials in treatment wetlands such as saturation time, availability at a local level, content of heavy metals, and the recyclability of saturated filter media as fertilizer should be taken into consideration.