Biological regeneration of manganese (IV) and iron (III) for anaerobic metal oxide-mediated removal of pharmaceuticals from water

Wenbo Liu, Alette A.M. Langenhoff*, Nora B. Sutton, Huub H.M. Rijnaarts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Applying manganese(IV)- or iron(III)-(hydr)oxides to remove pharmaceuticals from water could be attractive, due to the capacity of these metal oxides to remove pharmaceuticals and be regenerated. As pharmaceutical removal under anaerobic conditions is foreseen, Mn(IV) or Fe(III) regeneration under anaerobic conditions, or with minimum oxygen dosage, is preferred. In this study, batch experiments are performed to investigate (1) Mn(IV) and Fe(III) regeneration from Mn(II) and Fe(II); (2) the pharmaceutical removal during biological Mn(IV) and Fe(III) regeneration; and (3) anaerobic abiotic pharmaceutical removal with different Mn(IV) or Fe(III) species. Results show that biological re-oxidation of reduced Mn(II) to Mn(IV) occurs under oxygen-limiting conditions. Biological re-oxidation of Fe(II) to Fe(III) is obtained with nitrate under anaerobic conditions. Both bio-regenerated Mn(IV)-oxides and Fe(III)-hydroxides are amorphous. The pharmaceutical removal is insignificant by Mn(II)- or Fe(II)-oxidizing bacteria during regeneration. Finally, pharmaceutical removal is investigated with various Mn(IV) and Fe(III) sources. Anaerobic abiotic removal using Mn(IV) produced from drinking water treatment plants results in 23% metoprolol and 44% propranolol removal, similar to chemically synthesized Mn(IV). In contrast, Fe(III) from drinking water treatment plants outperformed chemically or biologically synthesized Fe(III); Fe (III) from drinking water treatment can remove 31–43% of propranolol via anaerobic abiotic process. In addition, one of the Fe(III)-based sorbents tested, FerroSorp®RW, can also remove propranolol (20–25%). Biological regeneration of Mn(IV) and Fe(III) from the reduced species Mn(II) and Fe(II) could be more effective in terms of cost and treatment efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-130
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018


  • Abiotic removal
  • Anaerobic condition
  • Biodegradation
  • Biological production of Mn(IV) and Fe(III) (hydr)oxides
  • Nitrate
  • Pharmaceuticals


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