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Near Quantitative Removal of Selenate and Sulfate Anions from Wastewaters by Cocrystallization with Chelating Hydrogen-Bondin...

by Jeffrey D Einkauf, Neil J Williams, Charles A Seipp, Radu Custelcean
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879 to 888

Selenium (Se) has become an environmental contaminant of aquatic ecosystems as a result of human activities, particularly mining, fossil fuel combustion, and agricultural activities. By leveraging the high sulfate concentrations relative to Se oxyanions (i.e., SeOn2–, n = 3, 4) present in some wastewaters, we have developed an efficient approach to Se-oxyanion removal by cocrystallization with bisiminoguanidinium (BIG) ligands that form crystalline sulfate/selenate solid solutions. The crystallization of the sulfate, selenate and selenite, oxyanions and of sulfate/selenate mixtures with five candidate BIG ligands are reported along with the thermodynamics of crystallization and aqueous solubilities. Oxyanion removal experiments with the top two performing candidate ligands show a near quantitative removal (>99%) of sulfate or selenate from solution. When both sulfate and selenate are present, there is near quantitative removal (>99%) of selenate, down to sub-ppb Se levels, with no discrimination between the two oxyanions during cocrystallization. Reducing the selenate concentrations by 3 orders of magnitude or more relative to sulfate, as found in many wastewaters, led to no measurable loss in Se removal efficiencies. This work offers a simple and effective alternative to selective separation of trace amounts of highly toxic selenate oxyanions from wastewaters, to meet stringent regulatory discharge limits.