Effect of struvite and organic acids on immobilization of copper and zinc in contaminated bio-retention filter media

Graeme J. Millar , Chathurani Moragaspitiya , Jay Rajapakse


Received July 09, 2019,Revised , Accepted April 14, 2020, Available online June 05, 2020

Volume 32,2020,Pages 35-44

Few studies have been carried out to connect nutrient recovery as struvite from wastewater and sustainable utilization of the recovered struvite for copper and zinc immobilization in contaminated soil. This study revealed the effect of struvite on Cu and Zn immobilization in contaminated bio-retention soil in the presence of commonly exuded plant organic acids. The research hypothesis was that the presence of both struvite and organic acids may influence the immobilization of Cu and Zn in soil. The outcome of this research confirmed that more than 99% of Cu and Zn was immobilized in bio-retention filter media by struvite application. Water-soluble Cu and Zn concentrations of struvite treated soil were less than 1.83 and 0.86 mg/kg respectively, and these concentrations were significantly lower compared to the total Cu and Zn content of 747.05 mg/kg in the contaminated soil. Application of struvite to Cu- and Zn-contaminated soil resulted in formation of compounds similar to zinc phosphate tetrahydrate (Zn3(PO4)2•4H2O) and amorphous Cu and Zn phases. Struvite was effective in heavy metal remediation in acidic soil regardless of the presence of Ca impurities in struvite and the presence of plant organic acids in soil. Overall, this study revealed that struvite recovered from wastewater treatment plants has potential for use as an amendment for heavy metal remediation in contaminated bio-retention soil.

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