IWA Publishing

Treatment of heavy metals by iron oxide coated and natural gravel media in Sustainable urban Drainage Systems

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Sustainable urban Drainage Systems (SuDS) filter drains are simple, low-cost systems utilized as a first defence to treat road runoff by employing biogeochemical processes to reduce pollutants. However, the mechanisms involved in pollution attenuation are poorly understood. This work aims to develop a better understanding of these mechanisms to facilitate improved SuDS design. Since heavy metals are a large fraction of pollution in road runoff, this study aimed to enhance heavy metal removal of filter drain gravel with an iron oxide mineral amendment to increase surface area for heavy metal scavenging. Experiments showed that amendment-coated and uncoated (control) gravel removed similar quantities of heavy metals. Moreover, when normalized to surface area, iron oxide coated gravels (IOCGs) showed poorer metal removal capacities than uncoated gravel. Inspection of the uncoated microgabbro gravel indicated that clay particulates on the surface (a natural product of weathering of this material) augmented heavy metal removal, generating metal sequestration capacities that were competitive compared with IOCGs. Furthermore, when the weathered surface was scrubbed and removed, metal removal capacities were reduced by 20%. When compared with other lithologies, adsorption of heavy metals by microgabbro was 10–70% higher, indicating that both the lithology of the gravel, and the presence of a weathered surface, considerably influence its ability to immobilize heavy metals. These results contradict previous assumptions which suggest that gravel lithology is not a significant factor in SuDS design. Based upon these results, weathered microgabbro is suggested to be an ideal lithology for use in SuDS.

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