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Interactions of high-rate nitrate reduction and heavy metal mitigation in iron-carbon-based constructed wetlands for purifying contaminated groundwater

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  • Lixia Jia, Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University
  • ,
  • Hai Liu, Tsinghua University
  • ,
  • Qiang Kong, Shandong Normal University
  • ,
  • Ming Li, Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University
  • ,
  • Shubiao Wu
  • Haiming Wu, Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University

Groundwater, as the most important drinking water source in arid regions of China, has been polluted seriously by accumulated nitrate and heavy metals. An economic alternative with capacity of simultaneous mitigation of nitrate and heavy metals is urgently needed. This study explored the incorporation of iron scraps and biochar into constructed wetlands (CWs) for enhancing purification performance and investigated interactions of effective nitrate reduction and heavy metals mitigation. The results showed that nitrate reduction performance could reach 87% in iron and carbon-based (Fe–C) CWs through Fe–C micro-electrolysis process, with lower nitrous oxide (N2O) emission (4.6–11.75 μg m−2 h−1) due to the complete denitrification process. Moreover, efficient heavy metals mitigation of 75–97% total chromium (Cr) and total lead (Pb) was obtained from Fe–C systems. However, the occurrence of heavy metals (Cr and Pb) in the influent posed an adverse impact on nitrate removal with the reduction rate of 19–43%. Biochemical characteristics of wetland plants indicated that the plants also suffered from the stress which induced from heavy metals. Overall, although the addition of iron and biochar in CWs enhanced nitrate and heavy metals removal in low carbon groundwater, further investigation is still needed to reveal the complex relationships between the removal of nitrate and heavy metals in CWs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115285
JournalWater Research
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • Constructed wetlands, Groundwater, Heavy metals, Iron-carbon micro-electrolysis, Nitrate removal

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