The transport behavior of As, Cu, Pb, and Zn during electrokinetic remediation of a contaminated soil using electrolyte conditioning

Jung Seok Yang, Man Jae Kwon, Jaeyoung Choi, Kitae Baek, Edward J. O'Loughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


Electrokinetic remediation (also known as electrokinetics) is a promising technology for removing metals from fine-grained soils. However, few studies have been conducted regarding the transport behavior of multi-metals during electrokinetics. We investigated the transport of As, Cu, Pb, and Zn from soils during electrokinetics, the metal fractionation before and after electrokinetics, the relationships between metal transport and fractionation, and the effects of electrolyte conditioning. The main transport mechanisms of the metals were electroosmosis and electromigration during the first two weeks and electromigration during the following weeks. The direction of electroosmotic flow was from the anode to the cathode, and the metals in the dissolved and reducible-oxides fractions were transported to the anode or cathode by electromigration according to the chemical speciation of the metal ions in the pore water. Moreover, a portion of the metals that were initially in the residual fraction transitioned to the reducible and soluble fractions during electrokinetic treatment. However, this alteration was slow and resulted in decreasing metal removal rates as the electrokinetic treatment progressed. In addition, the use of NaOH, H3PO4, and Na2SO4 as electrolytes resulted in conditions that favored the precipitation of metal hydroxides, phosphates, and sulfates in the soil. These results demonstrated that metal removal was affected by the initial metal fractionation, metal speciation in the pore solution, and the physical-chemical parameters of the electrolytes, such as pH and electrolyte composition. Therefore, the treatment time, use of chemicals, and energy consumption could be reduced by optimizing pretreatment and by choosing appropriate electrolytes for the target metals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-86
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was partially supported by the KIST Institutional Program ( 2Z03540 and 2Z03860 ) and by the Korea Environment Industry and Technology Institute (KEITI) through the Geo-Advanced Innovation Action Program ( 2013000540005 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Arsenic
  • Electrokinetics
  • Electromigration
  • Electroosmosis
  • Sequential extraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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