Fixed bed phosphate adsorption by immobilized nano-magnetite matrix: Experimental and a new modeling approach

Adva Zach-Maor, Raphael Semiat, Hilla Shemer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Nano-sized magnetite impregnated charcoal granular activated carbon (nFe-GAC) was utilized for the removal of phosphate from aqueous solutions using a fixed bed column. The dynamic of the phosphate adsorption was analyzed using a new approach to the Thomas model based on a two-step differential sorption rate process. The initial adsorption was found to be external mass transfer controlled, while intra-particle diffusion was the predominant mechanism in the latter stage. Consequently, two kinetic coefficients were calculated for each breakthrough curve resulting in an excellent model prediction. By implementing this approach a transition point, at which diffusion becomes the predominant adsorption mechanism, can be accurately determined. The effect of varying parameters, such as feed flow rates, feed pH, initial phosphate concentrations and adsorbent bed height were examined and described using the modified Thomas model. Reaction rates increased with augmentation of the flow rates from 1 to 40 mL/min while the adsorption capacity and transition point decreased. Similar transition points were obtained for initial phosphate concentrations between 10 and 100 mg/L. The unique characteristics of the nFe-GAC were evident as it exhibited very high phosphate adsorption capacity, at a wide range of pH values (4-9) with negligible effect of competing ions and short critical bed depth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)929-936
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Breakthrough curve
  • Composite adsorbent
  • Effluent
  • Thomas model

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