Arsenic (As) is a toxic element present in many (ground)water sources in the world. Most conventional As removal techniques require pre-oxidation of the neutral arsenite (As(III)) species to the negatively charged arsenate (As(V)) oxyanion to optimize As removal and minimize chemical use. In this work, a novel, continuous-flow As removal system was developed that combines biological As(III) oxidation by bacteria with Fe electrocoagulation (EC), an Fe(0)-based electrochemical technology that generates reactive Fe(III) precipitates to bind As. The bio-integrated FeEC system (bio-FeEC) showed effective oxidation and removal of 150 µg/L As(III), without the need of chemicals. To remove As to below the WHO guideline of 10 µg/L, 10 times lower charge dosage was required for the bio-FeEC system compared to conventional FeEC. This lower Fe dosage requirement reduced sludge production and energy consumption. The As(III) oxidizing biomass was found to consist of bacteria belonging to Comamonadaceae, Rhodobacteraceae and Acidovorax, which are capable of oxidizing As(III) and are common in drinking water biofilms. Characterization of the As-laden Fe solids by X-ray absorption spectroscopy indicated that both bio-FeEC and conventional FeEC produced solids consistent with a mixture of lepidocrocite and 2-line ferrihydrite. Arsenic bound to the solids was dominantly As(V), but a slightly higher fraction of As(V) was detected in the bio-FeEC solids compared to the conventional FeEC.
- Drinking water
- Programme Area 2: Water Resources