An iron removal process, which makes use of the catalytic effect of ferric iron, is proposed. For this purpose, the reaction kinetics derived from the data of the batch experiments was applied to the continuous flow system. Based upon this reaction kinetics, it has been theoretically demonstrated that the volumes of aeration tanks can be significantly reduced by keeping a high concentration of ferric iron in the reactor. However, in natural waters, Fe(II) is found commonly to be in the range of 0.01–10 mg/l. These ferrous iron concentrations are not high enough to maintain the high concentrations of ferric iron in the aeration tank. Therefore, similar to the activated sludge processes used in wastewater treatment, it is suggested that the required Fe(III) concentrations can be maintained by recycling Fe(OH)3 sludge back to the aeration tank.
It is known that the oxygenation of ferrous iron is catalyzed by the reaction product, ferric hydroxide. Catalytic action of the ferric iron sludges on the oxidation of ferrous iron by aeration has been identified and the kinetics of this catalytic reaction has been formulated by the authors. The oxidation of Fe(II) was studied in batch reactors in which the concentration of Fe(III) was in the range of 0–600 mg/l.
The oxygenation rate increased linearly with the increasing Fe(III) concentrations up to 50 mg/l and a second-order polynomial relationship was found between the reaction rate and the Fe(III) concentrations in the range of 50–600 mg/l. The required volume (V) of the aeration tank and the effluent Fe(II) concentrations were determined as a function of the Fe(III) concentration. The volume of the aeration tank required for the same Fe(II) conversion was reduced by a factor of 15 when the Fe(III) concentration was raised from 0 to 600 mg/l at pH=6.7. No incremental benefit of the increase of Fe(III) concentration was observed at Fe(III) levels beyond the 600 mg/l.
This study has experimentally demonstrated that significant savings can be achieved in iron removal systems by recirculating the Fe(III) sludges back to the aeration tank.