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The activation of ferrate with sulfite increases oxidative transformation of recalcitrant organic compounds; however, it also changes the characteristics of the iron particulates that result from the ferrate reduction. In this study, particles resulting from ferrate reduction both with and without sulfite were compared in a laboratory matrix simulating water treatment conditions at the bench-scale. Characteristics examined included magnetization, morphology, size, and surface charge. The activation of ferrate with sulfite changed the characteristics of resultant particles in several important ways. Activated ferrate resultant particles were less magnetic, more polydisperse including a higher fraction of nanoparticles, and exhibited a less-crystalline morphology compared to particles resulting from ferrate self-decay. Surface charges between the two particle types were similar, and negative. The relatively rapid formation of Fe(III) from Fe(VI) activation leads to particles of different character, likely though a greater supply of precursory low molecular weight iron hydroxo-species. Particles resulting from activated ferrate used as a preoxidant will impact downstream processes in important ways, such as gravimetric or magnetic separations and contaminant adsorption. Ferrate activation presents a possible trade-off between improved oxidation and impeded downstream physicochemical processes, and formation and fate of formed particles warrants consideration.


Bradley M. Bzdyra, Charles D. Spellman, Jr. and Joseph E. Goodwill are from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Irene Andreu is from the Department of Chemical Engineering.