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Doctoral thesis, 2013

The adsorption of arsenic oxyacids to iron oxyhydroxide columns

Mähler, Johan


The fundamental side of this project includes determination of ionic radii and plausible hydration numbers for the weakly hydrated alkali metal ions in solution, as well as an investigation of the intramolecular bond lengths of arsenic oxyacid species and orthotelluric acid. Experimental methods such as EXAFS, XANES and LAXS have been used for these purposes, as well as thorough screening for relevant structures in crystal structure databases. The improved ionic radius for the sodium ion in six-coordination is of particular interest as current literature data to a large extent is derived from structures not representative for aqueous solutions. The improved larger value is 1.07 Å in six-coordinated crystal structures and increases to 1.09 Å in aqueous solution due to hydration effects. Furthermore it has been discussed how alkali metal ions affect the three-dimensional network of hydrogen bound water molecules in aqueous solution, based on investigations with double difference infrared spectroscopy. Only the lithium ion was found to be a true structure making ion, even though the status of the border-line sodium ion can be discussed. The applied studies have focused on the rapid removal of arsenic from aqueous solution using columns filled with iron oxyhydroxide based adsorbents, complemented with additional batch experiments. Atomic absorption spectrophotometry has been used to determine concentrations of arsenic in the effluent of columns and iron content of the adsorbent material. Experiments have shown that adsorption does occur rapidly and since there is no need for reaching equilibrium in practical water cleaning applications, short empty bed contact times are sufficient for removing practically all arsenic. However, somewhat longer empty bed reaction times are desirable for a more efficient material utilization, as both diffusion into porosities and desorption of competing species are kinetic hindrances. Adsorption capacity in a column is quite dependent on the presence of competitors such as phosphate, hydrogen carbonate and fluoride, as well as on pH, possibly due to desorption kinetics. Scanning electron microscopy as well as XANES and EXAFS have been used to study the structural and chemical status of the adsorbents. The arsenic part of the project can be seen as an initiation of a future project, aiming at developing a simple but efficient adsorption filter for arsenic removal from drinking water in Burkina Faso.


column; adsorption; arsenic; arsenous; oxyacid; arsenic removal; arsenic enriched water; Burkina Faso; ionic radii; alkali ions; iron oxyhydroxide; GFH

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2013, number: 2013:54
ISBN: 978-91-576-7846-1, eISBN: 978-91-576-7847-8
Publisher: Department of Chemistry, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Mähler, Johan
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Chemistry

Associated SLU-program

Non-toxic environment

UKÄ Subject classification

Inorganic Chemistry
Other Chemical Engineering
Other Chemistry Topics
Water Treatment
Environmental Sciences

URI (permanent link to this page)