Phosphorus removal by steel slag from tile drainage water: Lab and field evaluations

Michael Edgar, Nasser Hamdan, Dominic Morales, Treavor H. Boyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Basic oxygen furnace (BOF) and blast furnace (BF) steel slags are well suited for phosphorous (P) removal from nonpoint sources such as agricultural runoff. However, the reported mechanism(s) of removal varies from study to study which complicates implementation for unique environmental conditions that may interfere with the removal mechanism(s). This work compared laboratory column experiments and field filter experiments to provide insights on the influence of relevant field conditions (water alkalinity, slag grain size distribution, BF:BOF slag ratio, and water stagnation) on P removal by BF and BOF steel slag mixtures. Alkalinity was the most influential variable in lab-scale slag columns that received 250 mg/L alkalinity water and achieved complete P removal throughout the 3-h experiment, while identical columns receiving 500 mg/L alkalinity water averaged 52% P removal and only 14% removal after 2.5 h. Batch regeneration and adsorption experiments were conducted on the exhumed BOF/BF slag mixture from the field filter to evaluate strategies for increasing field P removal capacity. The adsorption capacity of steel slags was effectively regenerated by 0.01 M Al2(SO4)3, which allowed for an additional 34% P removal in batch adsorption tests. The acid neutralization capacity of slag samples was effectively regenerated by 1 M NaOH, which allowed previously expended slag to reach a pH of 9.7 even in high alkalinity test water. The results presented here show that BF slag and Al2(SO4)3 regeneration of BF slag is best suited for high alkalinity influent conditions and removes P through adsorption while BOF slag and NaOH regeneration perform best under low alkalinity conditions and removes P through mineral precipitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number135850
StatePublished - Nov 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Agricultural runoff
  • Basic oxygen furnace slag
  • Blast furnace slag
  • Phosphate
  • Tile drainage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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