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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 27 No. 5, p. 1055-1063
    Received: Sept 3, 1997

    * Corresponding author(s): grasso@eng2.uconn.edu
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Surface Complexation Modeling of Phosphate Adsorption by Water Treatment Residual

  1. Michael A. Butkus,
  2. Domenico Grasso *,
  3. Cristian P. Schulthess and
  4. Hotze Wijnja
  1. Dep. of Geography and Environmental Engineering, The United States Military Academy, West Point, NY 10996-1695;
    Environmental Engineering Program;
    Dep. of Plant Science, Univ. of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269-2037.



Use of water treatment plant residuals (WTR), as a soil amendment is a promising alternative to landfill disposal. Unfortunately, WTR has a propensity to bind with phosphate, which is an important plant nutrient. Phosphate may be added to WTR prior to soil application. This type of pretreatment may convert WTR from a phosphate consumer to a phosphate supplier. The binding of phosphate to WTR is typically attributed to surface complexation with metal oxides. However, attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) data and phosphate-WTR adsorption equilibrium data indicate that phosphate also binds to a cationic polyelectrolyte that is added during water treatment processes. Using the FITEQL optimization program, equilibrium constants and total number of surface sites were determined for the polymer. Results from the FITEQL optimization were used to model binding of phosphate by cationic polymer. Binding of phosphate by hydrous ferric oxide was modeled using a diffuse double layer model, which included surface precipitation (MICROQL). The model was validated through the use of phosphate equilibrium partitioning data at pH values of 6 and 8. The model predicted that a significant fraction of phosphate adsorbed onto WTR is associated with the cationic polymer.

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