Journal article

Effect of aging on the structure and phosphate retention of Fe(III)-precipitates formed by Fe(II) oxidation in water

Iron(III)-precipitates formed by Fe(II) oxidation in aqueous solutions affect the cycling and impact of Fe and other co-precipitated elements in environmental systems. Fresh Fe(III)-precipitates are metastable and their transformation into more stable phases during aging may result in the release of initially co-precipitated ions. Phosphate, silicate, Mg and Ca play key roles in determining the structure and composition of fresh Fe(III)-precipitates. Here we examine how these ions affect the structure and phosphate retention of Fe(III)-precipitates formed by oxidation of 0.5 mM dissolved Fe(II) at pH 7.0 after aging for 30 days at 40 degrees C. Iron K-edge X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) shows that aged precipitates consist of the same structural units as fresh precipitates: Amorphous Fe(III)-or Ca-Fe(III)-phosphate, ferrihydrite, and poorly crystalline lepidocrocite. Mg, Ca, and dissolved phosphate stabilize (Ca-) Fe(III)-phosphate against transformation into ferrihydrite. Silicate further attenuates (Ca-) Fe(III)-phosphate transformation. The crystallinity of lepidocrocite formed in phosphate-and silicate-free solutions slightly increases during aging. The transformation of Fe(III)-and Ca-Fe(III)-phosphate into ferrihydrite and ongoing ferrihydrite crystallization during aging result in the release of co-precipitated phosphate. Dissolved Ca on the other hand limits phosphate concentrations to values consistent with solubility control by octacalciumphosphate. Owing to the combined effects of Ca and silicate, phosphate is most effectively retained by Fe(III)-precipitates formed and aged in Ca-and silicate-containing solutions. The results from this study contribute to an improved understanding of the formation and transformation of Fe(III)-precipitates and emphasize that the complexity of Fe(III)-precipitate dynamics in the presence of multiple interfering solutes must be considered when addressing their impact on major and trace elements in environmental systems. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


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