Comparing fine particulate iron hydroxide adsorbents for the removal of phosphate in a hybrid adsorption/ultrafiltration system

Inga Hilbrandt*, Hilla Shemer, Aki Sebastian Ruhl, Raphael Semiat, Martin Jekel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The use of micro-sized iron hydroxide adsorbents in mixed reactors is a promising technique for the removal of inorganic contaminants from wastewater within minutes of contact time. This study focusses on phosphate adsorption onto fine fraction granular ferric hydroxide (µGFH) and iron oxy(hydr)oxide agglomerates (IOAs) in a reactor with submerged ultrafiltration (UF) membrane. The performance of the hybrid adsorption/UF membrane system was evaluated for various adsorbents and phosphate concentrations, residence times and concentrations of co-existing ions. The membrane was not fouled at the experimental conditions used (up to 6.3 g/L adsorbent). Phosphate loadings of 20 and 60 mg P/g Fe (36.1 and 108.3 mol P/mol Fe) were reached for µGFH and IOAs, respectively (C0(P) = 4.5 mg/L, deionized water at pH 8, C(Fe) = 0.6 g/L). A shortened residence time of 15 min in the reactor led to a decrease in final loading of 6 mg/g compared to 30 min residence time (54 mg/g compared to 60 mg/g). An extension to 60 min did not result in higher loadings. An increase in adsorbent (IOA) concentration from 0.1 to 0.3 mg/L resulted in an increase of phosphate removal (27 to 35%). Simultaneously, loadings decreased from 50 to 35 mg/g. The application of the developed process for the treatment of artificial secondary effluent resulted in an increase of 87 and 60% in treated volumes until breakthrough (50%) for µGFH and IOAs, respectively, compared to deionized water. Thus, the combined process of adsorption and particle separation using a submerged membrane can be well adjusted according to water composition, initial pollutant concentrations and desired removals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-28
Number of pages6
JournalSeparation and Purification Technology
StatePublished - 15 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Aquatic pollutants
  • Granular ferric hydroxide
  • Hybrid membrane process
  • Iron oxy(hydr)oxide agglomerates

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Comparing fine particulate iron hydroxide adsorbents for the removal of phosphate in a hybrid adsorption/ultrafiltration system'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this