Capturing phosphates with iron enhanced sand filtration

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105 Scopus citations


Most treatment practices for urban runoff capture pollutants such as phosphorus by either settling or filtration while dissolved phosphorus, typically as phosphates, is untreated. Dissolved phosphorus, however, represents an average 45% of total phosphorus in stormwater runoff and can be more than 95%. In this study, a new stormwater treatment technology to capture phosphate, called the Minnesota Filter, is introduced. The filter comprises iron filings mixed with sand and is tested for phosphate removal from synthetic stormwater. Results indicate that sand mixed with 5% iron filings captures an average of 88% phosphate for at least 200 m of treated depth, which is significantly greater than a sand filter without iron filings. Neither incorporation of iron filings into a sand filter nor capture of phosphates onto iron filings in column experiments had a significant effect on the hydraulic conductivity of the filter at mixtures of 5% or less iron by weight. Field applications with up to 10.7% iron were operated over 1 year without detrimental effects upon hydraulic conductivity. A model is applied and fit to column studies to predict the field performance of iron-enhanced sand filters. The model predictions are verified through the predicted performance of the filters in removing phosphates in field applications. Practical applications of the technology, both existing and proposed, are presented so stormwater managers can begin implementation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3032-3042
Number of pages11
JournalWater Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jun 1 2012


  • BMPs
  • Dissolved compounds
  • Filtration
  • Iron
  • Phosphates
  • Phosphorus
  • Stormwater
  • Treatment
  • Urban runoff


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