Zero-valent iron for the abatement of arsenate and selenate from flowback water of hydraulic fracturing

Yuqing Sun, Season S. Chen, Daniel C.W. Tsang, Nigel J.D. Graham, Yong Sik Ok, Yujie Feng, Xiang Dong Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Zero-valent iron (ZVI) was tested for the removal of 150 μg L−1 As(V) and 350 μg L−1 Se(VI) in high-salinity (ionic strength 0.35–4.10 M) flowback water of hydraulic fracturing. Over 90% As(V) and Se(VI) was removed by 2.5 g L−1 ZVI in Day-14 flowback water up to 96-h reaction, with the remaining concentration below the maximum contaminant level for As(V) and criterion continuous concentration for Se(VI) recommended by US EPA. The kinetics of As(V) and Se(VI) removal followed a pseudo-second-order rate expression with the observed rates of 4.51 × 10−2–4.91 × 10−1 and 3.48 × 10−2–6.58 × 10−1 h−1 (with 0.5–10 g L−1 ZVI), respectively. The results showed that Se(VI) removal significantly decreased with increasing ionic strength, while As(V) removal showed little variation. Common competing anions (nitrate, bicarbonate, silicate, and phosphate), present in shallow groundwater and stormwater, caused marginal Se(VI) desorption (2.42 ± 0.13%) and undetectable As(V) desorption from ZVI. The competition between As(V) and Se(VI) for ZVI removal depended on the initial molar ratio and surface sites, which occurred when the Se(VI) concentration was higher than the As(V) concentration in this study. The characterization of As(V)- and Se(VI)-loaded ZVI by X-ray diffraction and Raman analysis revealed that ZVI gradually converted to magnetite/maghemite corrosion products with lepidocrocite in flowback water over 30 days. Similar corrosion compositions were confirmed in aerobic and anaerobic conditions regardless of the molar ratio of As(V) to Se(VI). The high reactivity and stability of ZVI showed its suitability for in-situ prevention of As(V) and Se(VI) migration due to accidental leakage, spillage, or overflow of flowback water.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-170
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Arsenic
  • Hydraulic fracturing
  • Ionic strength
  • Permeable reactive barrier
  • Selenium
  • Zero-valent iron

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


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