Removal of chlorinated organic solvents from hydraulic fracturing wastewater by bare and entrapped nanoscale zero-valent iron

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

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


With the increasing application of hydraulic fracturing, it is urgent to develop an effective and economically feasible method to treat the large volumes of fracturing wastewater. In this study, bare and entrapped nanoscale zero-valent iron (nZVI) were introduced for the removal of carbon tetrachloride (CT) and 1,1,2-trichloroethane (TCA) in model high-salinity fracturing wastewater. With increasing ionic strength (I) from Day-1 (I = 0.35 M) to Day-90 (I = 4.10 M) wastewaters, bare nZVI presented significantly lower removal efficiency of CT (from 53.5% to 38.7%) and 1,1,2-TCA (from 71.1% to 21.7%) and underwent more serious Fe dissolution from 1.31 ± 1.19% in Day-1 to 5.79 ± 0.32% in Day-90 wastewater. Particle aggregation induced by high ionic strength was primarily responsible for the lowered performance of nZVI due to less available reactive sites on nZVI surface. The immobilization of nZVI in alginate with/without polyvinyl alcohol provided resistance to particle aggregation and contributed to the superior performance of entrapped nZVI in Day-90 wastewater for 1,1,2-TCA removal (62.6–72.3%), which also mitigated Fe dissolution (4.00–4.69%). Both adsorption (by polymer matrix) and reduction (by immobilized nZVI) were involved in the 1,1,2-TCA removal by entrapped nZVI. However, after 1-month immersion in synthetic fracturing wastewater, a marked drop in the reactivity of entrapped nZVI for 1,1,2-TCA removal from Day-90 wastewater was observed with significant release of Na and total organic carbon. In summary, bare nZVI was sensitive to the nature of the fracturing wastewater, while the use of environmentally benign entrapped nZVI was more promising for wastewater treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-17
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


  • 1,1,2-trichloroethane
  • Alginate entrapment
  • Carbon tetrachloride
  • Fracturing wastewater treatment
  • Iron dissolution
  • nZVI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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