Aging effects on chemical transformation and metal(loid) removal by entrapped nanoscale zero-valent iron for hydraulic fracturing wastewater treatment

Yuqing Sun, Cheng Lei, Eakalak Khan, Season S. Chen, Daniel C.W. Tsang, Yong Sik Ok, Daohui Lin, Yujie Feng, Xiangdong Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, alginate and polyvinyl alcohol (PVA)-alginate entrapped nanoscale zero-valent iron (nZVI) was tested for structural evolution, chemical transformation, and metals/metalloids removal (Cu(II), Cr(VI), Zn(II), and As(V)) after 1–2 month passivation in model saline wastewaters from hydraulic fracturing. X-ray diffraction analysis confirmed successful prevention of Fe0corrosion by polymeric entrapment. Increasing ionic strength (I) from 0 to 4.10 M (deionized water to Day-90 fracturing wastewater (FWW)) with prolonged aging time induced chemical instability of alginate due to dissociation of carboxyl groups and competition for hydrogen bonding with nZVI, which caused high Na (7.17%) and total organic carbon (24.6%) dissolution from PVA-alginate entrapped nZVI after 2-month immersion in Day-90 FWW. Compared to freshly-made beads, 2-month aging of PVA-alginate entrapped nZVI in Day-90 FWW promoted Cu(II) and Cr(VI) uptake in terms of the highest removal efficiency (84.2% and 70.8%), pseudo-second-order surface area-normalized rate coefficient ksa(2.09 × 10− 1L m− 2h− 1and 1.84 × 10− 1L m− 2h− 1), and Fe dissolution after 8-h reaction (13.9% and 8.45%). However, the same conditions inhibited Zn(II) and As(V) sequestration in terms of the lowest removal efficiency (31.2% and 39.8%) by PVA-alginate nZVI and ksa(4.74 × 10− 2L m− 2h− 1and 6.15 × 10− 2L m− 2h− 1) by alginate nZVI. The X-ray spectroscopic analysis and chemical speciation modelling demonstrated that the difference in metals/metalloids removal by entrapped nZVI after aging was attributed to distinctive removal mechanisms: (i) enhanced Cu(II) and Cr(VI) removal by nZVI reduction with accelerated electron transfer after pronounced dissolution of non-conductive polymeric immobilization matrix; (ii) suppressed Zn(II) and As(V) removal by nZVI adsorption due to restrained mass transfer after blockage of surface-active micropores. Entrapped nZVI was chemically fragile and should be properly stored and regularly replaced for good performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)498-507
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2018


  • Aging effect
  • Alginate entrapment
  • Chemical speciation
  • Hydraulic fracturing
  • Metal/metalloid removal
  • Nanoscale zero-valent iron

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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