Evaluation of a universal flow-through model for predicting and designing phosphorus removal structures

Chad Penn, James Bowen, Joshua McGrath, Robert Nairn, Garey Fox, Glenn Brown, Stuart Wilson, Clinton Gill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Phosphorus (P) removal structures have been shown to decrease dissolved P loss from agricultural and urban areas which may reduce the threat of eutrophication. In order to design or quantify performance of these structures, the relationship between discrete and cumulative removal with cumulative P loading must be determined, either by individual flow-through experiments or model prediction. A model was previously developed for predicting P removal with P sorption materials (PSMs) under flow-through conditions, as a function of inflow P concentration, retention time (RT), and PSM characteristics. The objective of this study was to compare model results to measured P removal data from several PSM under a range of conditions (P concentrations and RT) and scales ranging from laboratory to field. Materials tested included acid mine drainage residuals (AMDRs), treated and non-treated electric arc furnace (EAF) steel slag at different size fractions, and flue gas desulfurization (FGD) gypsum. Equations for P removal curves and cumulative P removed were not significantly different between predicted and actual values for any of the 23 scenarios examined. However, the model did tend to slightly over-predict cumulative P removal for calcium-based PSMs. The ability of the model to predict P removal for various materials, RTs, and P concentrations in both controlled settings and field structures validate its use in design and quantification of these structures. This ability to predict P removal without constant monitoring is vital to widespread adoption of P removal structures, especially for meeting discharge regulations and nutrient trading programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-355
Number of pages11
StatePublished - May 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Eutrophication
  • Flow-through model
  • Legacy phosphorus
  • Phosphorus
  • Phosphorus removal structures
  • Phosphorus sorption materials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


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