In eutrophication management, many phosphorus (P) adsorbents have been developed to capture P at the laboratory scale. Existing P removal practice in freshwaters is limited due to the lack of assessment of the possibility and feasibility of controlling P level towards a very low level (such as 10 μg/L) in order to prevent the harmful algal blooms. In this study, a combined external and internal P control approach was evaluated in a simulated pilot-scale river–lake system. In total, 0.8 m3
of simulated river water was continuously supplied to be initially treated by a P adsorption column filled with a granulated lanthanum/aluminium hydroxide composite (LAH) P adsorbent. At the outlet of the column (i.e., inlet of the receiving tanks), the P concentration decreased from 230 to 20 µg/L at a flow rate of 57 L/day with a hydraulic loading rate of 45 m/day. In the receiving tanks (simulated lake), 90 g of the same adsorbent material was added into 1 m3
water for further in situ treatment, which reduced and maintained the P concentration at 10 µg/L for 5 days. The synergy of external and internal P recapture was demonstrated to be an effective strategy for maintaining the P concentration below 10 µg/L under low levels of P water input. The P removal was not significantly affected by temperature (5–30 °C), and the treatment did not substantially alter the water pH. Along with the superior P adsorption capacity, less usage of LAH could lead to reduced cost for potation eutrophication control compared with other widely used P adsorbents.
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