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J Hazard Mater. 2007 Sep 5;148(1-2):395-401. Epub 2007 Mar 1.

Sorption of aqueous phosphorus onto bituminous and lignitous coal ashes.

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Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, University of Toronto, 200 College Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 3E5.


Aiming at the development of a phosphorus removal technology for waste water, phosphate (PO(4)(3-)) retention behavior of bituminous and lignitous coal ashes was investigated using a batch reactor. Ash samples, including fresh and weathered fly and bottom ashes, were studied for their sorption isotherms and reversibility. Fly ashes had a much higher phosphate retention capacity (4000-30,000mgP/kg) than bottom ashes (15-600mgP/kg). Lignitous coal ashes were more capable of retaining phosphate than bituminous coal ashes. The retention process was largely irreversible, and the irreversibility increased with the increase in the retention capacity. Weathering enlarged the retention capacity of the bituminous bottom ash, but substantially lowered that of the fly ash, likely due to the difference in the weather-induced changes between the fly and bottom ashes. Sorption isotherms of fly ashes were found to be adequately represented by the Langmuir model while those of bottom ashes fitted better to the Freundlich model. Concentrations of Ca(2+) and PO(4)(3-) in the aqueous phase were measured at the end of sorption and desorption experiments, and were compared with solubilities of three calcium phosphate minerals. The aqueous solutions were saturated or super-saturated with respect to tricalcium phosphate (Ca(3)(PO(4))(2)) and hydroxyapatite (Ca(5)(PO(4))(3)OH), and slightly under-saturated with respect to amorphous calcium phosphate. It is concluded that precipitation of calcium phosphate is the predominant mechanism for phosphate retention by coal ash under the conditions studied. There is a strong and positive correlation between alkalinity and phosphate sorption capacity. Consequently, acid neutralization capacity (ANC) can be used as an indicator of phosphate sorption capacity of coal ashes.

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