Reactivity of Nitrate with Zero-Valent Iron

Katie M. Wagner, Tasios Karathanasis, Christopher J. Matocha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Elevated nitrate concentrations in groundwater and surface water supplies can negatively impact the quality of the environment and human health. Recent studies have examined the use of zero-valent iron technology to treat nitrate-contaminated groundwater. Mechanistic aspects of nitrate reduction by zero-valent iron are unresolved. This project investigated the kinetics and mechanism of nitrate reduction by zero-valent iron under anoxic conditions and under oxic conditions. Stirred-batch reactions were studied over environmentally relevant ranges of reactant concentration, pH, and temperature. A complex rate expression was derived with a 1.8 order dependence on nitrate, a 1.4 order dependence on zero-valent iron, and a fractional order (0.8) dependence on proton concentrations under anoxic conditions. An apparent activation energy of 35 kJ mol−1 was observed indicating that nitrate reduction was diffusion controlled under our conditions. Furthermore, the calculated entropy of activation value of −162 J mol−1K−1 indicates that this reaction occurred by an associative mechanism. Under oxic conditions, there was a lag period in nitrate reduction where oxygen was preferentially utilized, leading to a slower rate of nitrate reduction when compared with anoxic conditions. These rate data can be used in predicting nitrate disappearance in nitrate-contaminated groundwater and wastewater treated with zero-valent iron.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2796
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by National Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2002-35107-12214 from the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.


  • ammonium
  • kinetics
  • nitrate
  • nitrite
  • reduction
  • zero-valent iron

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Aquatic Science
  • Biochemistry


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