Phosphorus saturation potential: a parameter for estimating the longevity of constructed wetland systems

Aleksandra Drizo*, Yves Comeau, Christiane Forget, Robert P. Chapuis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

226 Citations (Scopus)


Phosphorus (P) adsorption capacities of materials derived from batch experiments can vary by several orders of magnitude depending on the method used, leading to potential misinterpretation of the P retention capacity on a longterm basis and unrealistic estimations of constructed wetland systems (CWS) longevity. The objective of this study was to determine if the P saturation of the material in a column could be used for this purpose with an improved accuracy. A 278-d column experiment with a synthetic P solution was conducted to investigate the long-term P retention capacity of electric arc furnace (EAF) steel slag up to its P saturation point. EAF slag showed a high affinity for P, reaching a saturation value of 1.35 g of P kg -1. Investigations of the regeneration of the P adsorbing capacity by this material showed that, after 4 weeks of water desaturated resting, EAF steel slag was able to increase its initial P adsorptive capacity to 2.35 g of P kg -1. A sequential P fractionation experiment was performed to quantify the proportion of P bound to mineral compounds in EAF. From the most loosely bound to the most strongly bound P fraction, P was associated with resin extractable (14%), Fe extractable (0.5 M Na 2CO 3, 47%), Al extractable (0.1 M NaOH, 1%), Ca extractable (1 M HCl, 12%), and Ca in a stable residual pool (concentrated hot HCl, 26.5%). X-ray fluorescence analyses of EAF steel slag chemical composition revealed that the continuous application of a P solution resulted in 75% and 59% increases in K20 and P 2O 5, respectively; Al 2O 3 and FeO increased by 8%, while the portion of CaO remained unchanged. The investigated properties (P retention potential, regeneration of P adsorption, P fractionation) provide useful data about the suitability of slag material as a media for longterm P removal and should enable an improved prediction of the longevity of full-scale CWS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4642-4648
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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