Low-cost adsorbents, adsorption, phosphorus, wastewater treatment
The phenomenon of adsorption is widely exploited across a range of industries to remove contaminants from gases and liquids. Much recent research has focused on identifying low-cost adsorbents which have the potential to be used as alternatives to expensive industry standards like activated carbons. Evaluating these emerging adsorbents entails a considerable amount of labor intensive and costly testing and analysis. This study proposes a simple, low-cost method to rapidly assess the potential of novel media for potential use in large-scale adsorption filters. The filter media investigated in this study were low-cost adsorbents which have been found to be capable of removing dissolved phosphorus from solution, namely: i) aluminum drinking water treatment residual, and ii) crushed concrete. Data collected from multiple small-scale column tests was used to construct a model capable of describing and predicting the progression of adsorbent saturation and the associated effluent concentration breakthrough curves. This model was used to predict the performance of long-term, large-scale filter columns packed with the same media. The approach proved highly successful, and just 24-36 hours of experimental data from the small-scale column experiments was found to provide sufficient information to predict the performance of the large-scale filters for up to three months.