Arsenate removal from water using sand–red mud columns

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Genç-Fuhrmana, H, Bregnhøja, H & McConchie, D 2005, ‘Arsenate removal from water using sand–red mud columns’, Water Research, vol. 39, no. 13, pp. 2944-2954.


This study describes experiments in which sorption filters, filled with chemically modified red mud (Bauxsol) or activated Bauxsol (AB) coated sand, are used to remove As(V) (arsenate) from water. Bauxsol-coated sand (BCS) and AB-coated sand (ABCS) are prepared by mixing Bauxsol or AB with wet sand and drying. Samples of the BCS and ABCS are also used in batch experiments to obtain isotherm data. The observed adsorption data fit the Langmuir model well, with adsorption maxima of 3.32 and 1.64 mg g−1 at pH values of 4.5 and 7.1, respectively for BCS; and of 2.14 mg g−1 for ABCS at a pH of 7.1. Test results show that higher arsenate adsorption capacities can be achieved for both BCS and ABCS when using the columns compared to results for batch experiments; the difference is greater for BCS. Additional batch tests, carried out for 21 days using BCS to explain the observed discrepancy, show that the equilibrium time previously used in batch experiments was too short because adsorption continued for at least 21 days and reached 87% after 21 days compared to only 35% obtained after 4 h. Fixed bed column tests, used to investigate the effects of flow rate and initial arsenate concentration indicate that the process is sensitive to both parameters, with lower flow rates (longer effective residence times in the columns) and initial arsenate concentrations providing better column performance. An examination of the combined effect of potential competing anions (i.e. silicate, phosphate, sulphate and bicarbonate) on the column performance showed that the presence of these anions in tap water slightly decreases arsenate removal. Each breakthrough curve is compared to the Thomas model, and it is found that the model may be applied to estimate the arsenate sorption capacity in columns filled with BCS and ABCS. The data obtained from both batch and column studies indicate that BCS and ABCS filtration could be effectively used to remove arsenate from water, with the latter being more efficient.