The activated iron system for phosphorus recovery in aqueous environments

Jun Wan, Xiaoqing Jiang, Tian C. Zhang, Jiong Hu, Dana Richter-Egger, Xiaonan Feng, Aijiao Zhou, Tao Tao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Finding a good sorbent for phosphorus (P) recovery from the aquatic environment is critical for preventing eutrophication and providing P resources. The activated iron system (mainly consisted of zero-valent iron (ZVI), Fe3O4 and Fe2+) has been reported to exhibit a favorable performance towards various contaminants in wastewater, but its effect on P recovery has not been studied systematically. In this study, we used Fe2+-nitrate pretreatment reaction to prepare the activated iron system and then applied it to P recovery. Results show that more than 99% P was removed from water in 60 min; co-existing anions (NO3, Cl and SO42−) and natural organic matter (NOM) had little effect on P removal. The P removal capacity of activated iron system is very high compared with currently reported sorbents. Externally-supplied Fe2+ plays an important role on P removal in the system. Regeneration study shows that the activated iron system exhibited stable P recovery ability by using 0.1 M NaOH solution. Various methods were applied to characterize the ZVI and iron corrosion, and results conclude that sorption precipitation, and co-precipitation contribute to P removal. This method will be promising and have an application potential in the field for efficient and cost-effective recovery of P with cheap microscale zero valent iron.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-160
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Activated iron
  • Ferrous ion
  • Magnetite
  • Phosphorus recovery
  • Zero valent iron

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • General Chemistry
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


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