Enhanced nitrate-nitrogen removal by modified attapulgite-supported nanoscale zero-valent iron treating simulated groundwater

Lei Dong, Li Lin, Qingyun Li, Zhuo Huang, Xianqiang Tang, Min Wu, Chao Li, Xiaohuan Cao, Miklas Scholz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Attapulgite (or palygorskite) is a magnesium aluminium phyllosilicate. Modified attapulgite-supported nanoscale zero-valent iron (NZVI) was created by a liquid-phase reduction method and then applied for nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N) removal (transformation) in simulated groundwater. Nanoscale zero-valent iron was sufficiently dispersed on the surface of thermally modified attapulgite. The NO3-N removal efficiency reached up to approximately 83.8% with an initial pH values of 7.0. The corresponding thermally modified attapulgite-supported nanoscale zero-valent iron (TATP-NZVI) and NO3-N concentrations were 2.0 g/L and 20 mg/L respectively. Moreover, 72.1% of the water column NO3-N was converted to ammonium-nitrogen (NH4-N) within 6 h. The influence of environmental boundary conditions including dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration, light illumination and water temperature on NO3-N removal was also investigated with batch experiments. The results indicated that the DO concentration greatly impacted on NO3-N removal in the TATP-NZVI-contained solution, and the NO3-N removal efficiencies were 58.5% and 83.3% with the corresponding DO concentrations of 9.0 and 0.3 mg/L after 6 h of treatment, respectively. Compared to DO concentrations, no significant (p > 0.05) effect of light illumination on NO3-N removal and NH4-N generation was detected. The water temperature also has great importance concerning NO3-N reduction, and the removal efficiency of NO3-N at 25 °C was 1.25 times than that at 15 °C. For groundwater, therefore, environmental factors such as water temperature, anaerobic conditions and darkness could influence the NO3-N removal efficiency when TATP-NZVI is present. This study also demonstrated that TATP-NZVI has the potential to be developed as a suitable material for direct remediation of NO3-N-contaminated groundwater.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-158
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • Attapulgite-supported nanoscale zero-valent iron
  • Environmental boundary conditions
  • Groundwater quality control technology
  • Nitrate-nitrogen transformation
  • Palygorskite
  • Pollution treatment
  • Thermally modified

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Enhanced nitrate-nitrogen removal by modified attapulgite-supported nanoscale zero-valent iron treating simulated groundwater'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this