Exceptional arsenic (III,V) removal performance of highly porous, nanostructured ZrO2 spheres for fixed bed reactors and the full-scale system modeling

Hang Cui, Yu Su, Qi Li, Shian Gao, Jian Ku Shang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Highly porous, nanostructured zirconium oxide spheres were fabricated from ZrO2 nanoparticles with the assistance of agar powder to form spheres with size at millimeter level followed with a heat treatment at 450°C to remove agar network, which provided a simple, low-cost, and safe process for the synthesis of ZrO2 spheres. These ZrO2 spheres had a dual-pore structure, in which interconnected macropores were beneficial for liquid transport and the mesopores could largely increase their surface area (about 98m2/g) for effective contact with arsenic species in water. These ZrO2 spheres demonstrated an even better arsenic removal performance on both As(III) and As(V) than ZrO2 nanoparticles, and could be readily applied to commonly used fixed-bed adsorption reactors in the industry. A short bed adsorbent test was conducted to validate the calculated external mass transport coefficient and the pore diffusion coefficient. The performance of full-scale fixed bed systems with these ZrO2 spheres as the adsorber was estimated by the validated pore surface diffusion modeling. With the empty bed contact time (EBCT) at 10min and the initial arsenic concentration at 30ppb, the number of bed volumes that could be treated by these dry ZrO2 spheres reached ~255,000BVs and ~271,000BVs for As(III) and As(V), respectively, until the maximum contaminant level of 10ppb was reached. These ZrO2 spheres are non-toxic, highly stable, and resistant to acid and alkali, have a high arsenic adsorption capacity, and could be easily adapted for various arsenic removal apparatus. Thus, these ZrO2 spheres may have a promising potential for their application in water treatment practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6258-6268
Number of pages11
JournalWater Research
Issue number16
StatePublished - Oct 15 2013


  • Adsorption
  • As(III) and As(V) removal
  • Pore surface diffusion model (PSDM)
  • Short bed adsorber (SBA) test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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