Addressing harmful algal blooms (HABs) impacts with ferrate(VI): Simultaneous removal of algal cells and toxins for drinking water treatment

Yang Deng, Meiyin Wu, Huiqin Zhang, Lei Zheng, Yaritza Acosta, Tsung Ta D. Hsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Although ferrate(VI) has long been recognized as a multi-purpose treatment agent, previous investigations regarding ferrate(VI) for addressing harmful algal blooms (HABs) impacts in drinking water treatment only focused on a single HAB pollutant (e.g. algal cells or algal toxins). Moreover, the performance of ferrate(VI)-driven coagulation was poorly investigated in comparison with ferrate(VI) oxidation, though it has been widely acknowledged as a major ferrate(VI) treatment mechanism. We herein reported ferrate(VI) as an emerging agent for simultaneous and effective removal of algal cells and toxins in a simulated HAB-impacted water. Ferrate(VI)-driven oxidation enabled algal cell inactivation and toxin decomposition. Subsequently, Fe(III) from ferrate(VI) reduction initiated an in-situ coagulation for cell aggregation. Cell viability (initial 4.26 × 104 cells/mL at pH 5.5 and 5.16 × 104 cells/mL at pH 7.5) decreased to 0.0% at ≥ 7 mg/L Fe(VI) at pH 5.5 and 7.5, respectively. Cell density and turbidity were dramatically decreased at pH 5.5 once ferrate(VI) doses were beyond their respective threshold levels, which are defined as minimum effective iron doses (MEIDs). However, the particulate removal at pH 7.5 was poor, likely because the coagulation was principally driven by charge neutralization and a higher pH could not sufficiently lower the particle surface charge. Meanwhile, algal toxins (i.e., microcystins) of 3.98 μg/L could be substantially decomposed at either pH. And the greater degradation achieved at pH 5.5 was due to the higher reactivity of ferrate(VI) at the lower pH. This study represents the first step toward the ferrate(VI) application as a promising approach for addressing multiple HABs impacts for water treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757-761
Number of pages5
StatePublished - 2017


  • Algal cells
  • Algal toxins
  • Chemical oxidation
  • Coagulation
  • Drinking water treatment
  • Ferrate(VI)


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