Separation of Fe from wastewater and its use for NOx reduction; a sustainable approach for environmental remediation

Hafiz Muhammad Adeel Sharif, Moazzam Ali, Ayyaz Mahmood, Muhammad Bilal Asif, Muhammad Aizaz Ud Din, Mika Sillanpää, Asif Mahmood, Bo Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The nitrogen and sulphur oxide (NOx and SO2) emissions are causing a serious threat to the existence of life on earth, requiring their effective removal for a sustainable future. Among various approaches, catalytic or electrochemical reduction of air pollutants (NOx) has gained much attention due to its high efficiency and the possibility of converting these gases into valuable products. However, the required catalysts are generally synthesized from lab-grade chemicals, which may not be a sustainable approach. Herein, a sustainable approach is presented to synthesize an efficient iron-based catalyst directly from industrial/lake wastewater (WW) for NOx-reduction. According to the theoretical calculations and experimental results, Fe-ions could be readily recovered from wastewater because it has the best adsorption efficiency among all other co-existing metals (Ni2+, Cd2+, Co2+, Cu2+, and Cr6+). The subsequent experimental investigations confirmed the preferential Fe adsorption from different WW streams to develop Fe3O4@EDTA-Fe composite, whereby Fe3O4 could be used due to its high recycling ability, and ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) acted as a chelating agent to adsorb Fe-metal from effluents. The Fe3O4@EDTA-Fe exhibited high efficiency (≥87%) for NOx reduction even in the presence of high-degree oxygen contents (10–12%). Moreover, Fe3O4-EDTA-Fe showed excellent long-term stability for 24 h and maintained more than 80% NOx reduction. The fabricated catalyst has a great potential for executing a dual role simultaneously for Fe-recovery and NOx removal, promoting the circular economy concept and providing a potentially sustainable remediation approach for large-scale applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number135103
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • Circular economy
  • DFT calculations
  • Fe recovery
  • NO reduction
  • Real wastewater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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