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Phosphorus adsorption and desorption characteristics of constructed wetland gravels and steelworks by-products

R. A. Mann

Australian Journal of Soil Research 35(2) 375 - 384
Published: 1997


Laboratory phosphorus (P) adsorption and desorption experiments were conducted on 9 substrata to evaluate their potential to remove P from sewage effluent. The substrata comprised 2 gravels used in constructed wetlands, Hawkesbury sandstone, and 6 steelworks by-products: granulated blast furnace slag, blast furnace slag, steel slag, fly ash, bottom ash, and coal wash. The studies involved ion-exchange experiments and calculation of Langmuir and Freundlich adsorption isotherms and column adsorption/desorption trials. The ability to adsorb P was then correlated to the physico-chemical attributes including X-ray fluorescence analyses of each substratum.

High P adsorption capacities (>380 mg/kg) were shown for granulated blast furnace slag, blast furnace slag, and steel slag, as well as fly ash. All steelworks by-products had adsorption capacities greater than the constructed wetland gravels and Hawkesbury sandstone. The P adsorption capacities of the substrata were significantly correlated with Ca (r2 = 0 · 9206), Mg (r2 = 0 · 8681), pH (r2 = 0 · 7009), S (r2 = 0 · 6696), and Si (r2 = 0 · 6438) when fly ash was omitted from the analyses.

Further research is recommended to evaluate the sustainability of using slags for P removal (as well as other contaminants present in wastewater), using full-scale constructed wetlands. Research should include an evaluation of any likely environmental impacts using leachability and toxicity studies.

Keywords: phosphate adsorption capacities, Langmuir and Freundlich isotherms, steelworks by-products, constructed wetlands substrata.

© CSIRO 1997

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