Contaminant removal from (waste)waters by magnetite is a promising technology. In the present experimental study, a magnetite recycled from the steel industry waste (zero-valent iron powder) was used to investigate the sorption of As, Sb and U in phosphate-free and -rich suspensions, i.e. as a remediation for the acidic phosphogypsum leachates derived from the phosphate fertilizer industry. The results showed up to 98% U removal under controlled pH conditions, while phosphate did not hinder this immobilisation. In contrast, the results confirmed the limited uptake of As and Sb oxyanions by magnetite in presence of phosphate as the competing anion, displaying only 7-11% removal, compared to 83-87% in the phosphate-free sorption experiments. To limit this wastewater problem, raw ZVI anaerobic oxidation was examined as mechanism to increase the pH and as a source of Fe2+ in a first step, and in a second step to remove phosphate via vivianite precipitation, therefore prior to the reaction with magnetite. UV-Vis, XRD and SEM-EDS showed that vivianite precipitation is feasible at pH>4.5, mainly depending on the phosphate concentration. The higher the [PO43-], the lower is the pH at which vivianite precipitates and the higher the % removal of phosphate from solution. It is anticipated that an optimum 3-steps design with separate reactors controlling the conditions of ZVI oxidation, followed by vivianite precipitation and finally, reaction with magnetite, can achieve high contaminant uptake in field applications.

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