Arsenate Precipitation Using Ferric Iron in Acidic Conditions
Arsenates (i.e., As(V)) can be removed from aqueous solution by precipitation with ferric iron (i.e., Fe(III)). The chemistry of arsenic acid describes the main properties of arsenates. This triprotic acid resembles the phosphoric acid system. For example, free arsenate ions (i.e., AsO43-), like free phosphates, are present in significant concentration at pH values above pKa,3. On the other hand, the concentration of free ferric iron in solution, Fe3+, is limited by ferric hydroxide precipitation and hydroxy complexation under neutral or basic conditions. Fe3+ is the predominant iron form only under very acidic conditions. Therefore, the absence of either ferric ions or arsenate ligands prevents ferric arsenate (FeAsO4) precipitation in extreme pH conditions.
Precipitation studies using ferric chloride show that the formation of ferric arsenate in water containing 0.667 mM/L (50 mg/L as As) is favored in the pH range between 3 and 4. Ferric iron dose required to remove arsenic from solution increases with pH in the range of 3 to 10. Sludge production also increases with increasing pH conditions. Optimum ferric iron doses at pH 3 and 4 are 4.8 and 10.0 mM/L, respectively, where the arsenate is removed from solution by 98.72 and 99.68 percent. Corresponding iron requirement to arsenate ratios at these two pH conditions are 7.2 and 15.0.
Adverse effects on arsenic removal are observed at pH = 3, where the concentration of applied ferric iron exceeds the optimal dose. This effect is probably due to charge reversal on the surface of the precipitates. Overdosing above the optimal iron concentration at pH = 4 does not reduce treatment efficiency significantly. Presence of sodium chloride in solution at a concentration of 171 mM/L (10,000 mg/L as NaCl) does not impair system performance. However, sodium sulfate at a concentration of 104 mM/L (10,000 mg/L) affects adversely treatment performance.