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Laboratory evaluation of zero valent iron and sulfur modified iron filter materials for agricultural drainage water treatment

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Agricultural subsurface drainage waters containing nutrients (nitrate/phosphate) and pesticides are discharged into neighboring streams and lakes, frequently producing adverse environmental impacts on local, regional, and national scales. On-site drainage water filter treatment systems can potentially prevent the release of agricultural contaminants into adjacent waterways. Zero valent iron (ZVI) and sulfur-modified iron (SMI) are two types of promising filter materials that could be used within these treatment systems. Therefore, water treatment capabilities of three ZVI and three SMI filter materials were evaluated in the laboratory. Laboratory evaluation included saturated falling-head hydraulic conductivity tests, contaminant removal batch tests, and saturated solute transport column experiments. The three ZVI and the three SMI filter materials, on average, all had a sufficient hydraulic conductivity greater than 1 × 10−3 cm/s. Batch test results showed a phosphate decrease of at least 94% for all tests conducted with the ZVI and SMI. Furthermore, the three SMI filter materials removed at least 86% of the batch test nitrate originally present, while batch tests for one of the ZVI filter materials exhibited an 88% decrease in the pesticide, atrazine. Saturated solute transport column experiments were carried on the best ZVI filter material, or the best SMI filter material, or both together, in order to better evaluate drainage water treatment effectiveness and efficiency. Results from these column tests additionally document the drainage water treatment ability of both ZVI and SMI to remove the phosphate, the ability of SMI to remove nitrate, and the ability of a select ZVI material to remove atrazine. Consequently, these findings support further investigation of ZVI and SMI subsurface drainage water treatment capabilities, particularly in regard to small- and large-scale field tests.
Barry J. Allred
USDA Scientist Submission
Groundwater Monitoring & Remediation 2011 v.32 no.2
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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