The pollution of water by nitrates represents an important environmental and health issue. The development of sustainable technologies that are able to efficiently remove this contaminant is a key challenge in the field of wastewater treatment. Chemical denitrification by means of zero-valent metallic elements is an interesting method to reduce the oxidized forms of nitrogen. Compared to other metallic reactants, zero-valent magnesium (ZVM) has many profitable aspects, but its use for nitrate removal has scarcely been investigated. In the present work, several batch tests were conducted to examine the concurrent effects of pH, initial nitrate concentration and Mg0
quantity on process performance. The experimental results proved that at pH 3, for a given initial nitrate concentration, the dose of ZVM largely influences process efficiency. In particular, with a ratio between Mg0
and initial N-NO3−
) of 0.33 g/mg, it is possible to obtain complete denitrification within 30 min. Beyond this ratio, no further improvement of treatment was observed. The experiments allowed us to identify the nitrogen forms produced during the treatment. Nitrogen gas was generally the main reaction product, but the trends of the different compounds (NO3−
) notably changed in response to the modification of operating parameters. Moreover, the results demonstrated that, in a highly acidic environment, when treating solutions with a low nitrate concentration, process performances are unsatisfactory even when using a high Mg/NNi
ratio. By increasing the process pH to 5 and 7, a significant denitrification decline occurred. Furthermore, at these pH levels, the enhancement of nitrate concentration caused a progressive process deterioration. Through detailed analysis of experimental results, reactions kinetics and new mathematical equations, able to describe the trends of different nitrogen forms, have been defined. Moreover, reactions pathways have been proposed. Finally, the characterization of exhausted material allowed us to identify the corrosion products formed during the treatment.
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