Ecological Engineering, 97, 2016, 558–566
Mussel shell is a carbonate-rich by-product that could be recycled in wastewater treatment. In this work, phosphorus removal from aqueous solutions was obtained in a series of batch and column experiments in the laboratory, using a calcined and a finely-ground (non-calcined) mussel shell. Phosphorus removal followed a Freundlich model at high contact times (72 h) and a Langmuir model at lower time (24 h). Phosphorus removal capacity increased with contact time and with P concentration in the solution, while desorption of the retained P was very low (<4%). Calcined mussel shell presented a higher retention capacity than the fine shell, which can be attributed to differences in mineralogy and composition. The process of P removal from aqueous solution showed features that are typical of chemical reactions rather than denoting adsorption; concretely, the percentage of P removed increased with initial P concentration in the solution, thus pointing at a relevant role of precipitation in P removal. The results corresponding to the fractionation of the P retained in the mussel shell after the experiments showed that both mechanisms, adsorption and precipitation, contributed to P removal.