Electrochemical arsenic remediation for rural Bangladesh
Arsenic in drinking water is a major public health problem threatening the lives of over 140 million people worldwide. In Bangladesh alone, up to 57 million people drink arsenic-laden water from shallow wells. ElectroChemical Arsenic Remediation (ECAR) overcomes many of the obstacles that plague current technologies and can be used affordably and on a small-scale, allowing for rapid dissemination into Bangladesh to address this arsenic crisis. In this work, ECAR was shown to effectively reduce 550 - 580 mu g=L arsenic (including both As[III] and As[V] in a 1:1 ratio) to below the WHO recommended maximum limit of 10 mu g=L in synthetic Bangladesh groundwater containing relevant concentrations of competitive ions such as phosphate, silicate, and bicarbonate. Arsenic removal capacity was found to be approximately constant within certain ranges of current density, but was found to change substantially between ranges. In order of decreasing arsenic removal capacity, the pattern was: 0.02 mA=cm2 > 0.07 mA=cm2 > 0.30 - 1.1 mA=cm2 > 5.0 - 100 mA=cm2. Current processing time was found to effect arsenic removal capacity independent of either charge density or current density. Electrode polarization studies showed no passivation of the electrode in the tested range (up to current density 10 mA=cm2) and ruled out oxygen evolution as the cause of decreasing removal capacity with current density. Simple settling and decantation required approximately 3 days to achieve arsenic removal comparable to filtration with a 0.1 mu m membrane. X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (XAS) showed that (1) there is no significant difference in the arsenic removal mechanism of ECAR during operation at different current densities and (2) the arsenic removal mechanism in ECAR is consistent with arsenate adsorption onto a homogenous Fe(III)oxyhydroxide similar in structure to 2-line ferrihydrite. ECAR effectively reduced high arsenic concentrations (100 - 500 mu g=L) in real Bangladesh tube well water collected from three regions to below the WHO limit of 10 mu g=L. Prototype fabrication and field testing are currently underway.