Scientists have found a new way to lower iron levels in drinking water

The increased iron content in drinking water can cause significant harm to health – it often causes the development of dermatitis and other allergic reactions, diseases of the liver and kidneys. Exceeding the maximum permissible concentration of iron in water increases the risk of heart attacks and tissue damage during strokes. There are more prosaic, but no less serious complications. The increased iron content in water is one of the main reasons for the so-called biofouling of water pipes. The source of mucus formed on the connecting and butt elements of the pipeline are iron bacteria. Over time, this process leads to corrosion and damage to the water supply system.

Scientists from NUST “MISiS”, the University of Limerick (Ireland), IONH of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus and the Belarusian National Technical University presented an innovative, environmentally friendly and low-cost way to obtain highly effective filter materials to reduce the level of iron in drinking water. The development is based on a special modification of coal, which allows more than 3 times more efficient binding of iron in the composition of groundwater entering the water supply system.


The permissible iron content in drinking water is 0.3 mg / l, according to the requirements of the World Health Organization. However, in reality, its concentration in groundwater is on average 3 mg / l, but, for example, in the Middle Amur artesian basin (Far East, EAO) reaches critical levels of 30–40 mg / l.

The research team of NUST “MISiS”, the University of Limerick (Ireland), IONH of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus and the Belarusian National Technical University have proposed an innovative method of producing a catalytic filler to reduce the level of iron at water supply stations. The basis of the invention is a modified activated carbon. It contributes to the rapid oxidation of iron and the subsequent capture of oxide sludge in the process of filtering groundwater, providing a residual iron content in the total amount of 0.1 mg / l in the first portions of filtered water.

“To create the active substance of the filter, activated carbon granules were pre-impregnated with a solution containing iron nitrate and an organic reducing agent,” says one of the developers is a leading expert of NUST “MISiS”, Ph.D. Valentin Romanovsky. – Then they were placed in a muffle furnace to start an exothermic reaction, as a result of which a catalytic film formed on the surface of the granules within a couple of minutes. Diffraction and spectroscopic analysis of the obtained samples showed that a nanostructured crystalline structure was formed on the surface of the granules, which additionally increased the specific surface of the coal granules by 15–20%. The effectiveness of the materials obtained was tested in experimental conditions at the existing deferrization station in the Polessky region of southern Belarus. ”

The resulting filter structure made it possible to increase the efficiency of the iron oxidation process by more than 3 times relative to ordinary activated carbon. Studies have shown that the proposed method allowed to increase the environmental friendliness of the process of obtaining the material, since energy consumption decreased by almost 100 times in comparison with the analogue, and the consumption of necessary reagents was reduced by 8 times.

The research results are published in an international scientific journal. Environmental research.

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