Mechanisms of boron removal from hydraulic fracturing wastewater by aluminum electrocoagulation.
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HYPOTHESES: Boron uptake from highly saline hydraulic fracturing wastewater by freshly precipitated amorphous Al(OH)3 precipitates is due to ligand exchange and complexation with surface hydroxyl groups. Consequently, aluminum electrocoagulation can be a feasible approach to remove boron from flowback/produced water. EXPERIMENTS: Actual hydraulic fracturing wastewater containing 120mg/L boron from the Eagle Ford shale play was employed. Electrocoagulation was performed over a range of aluminum dosages (0-1350mg/L), pH 6.4 and 8, and high current densities (20-80mA/cm(2)) using a cylindrical aluminum anode encompassed by a porous cylindrical 316-stainless steel cathode. Direct measurements of boron uptake along with its chemical state and coordination were made using Attenuated Total Reflection-Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR) and X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy. FINDINGS: Boron removal increased monotonically with aluminum dosage and was higher at pH 8, but remained relatively constant at 20mA/cm(2). Chloride ions induced anodic pitting and super-Faradaic (131% efficiency) aluminum dissolution and their electrooxidation produced free chlorine. ATR-FTIR suggested outer-sphere and inner-sphere complexation of trigonal B(OH)3 with Al(OH)3, which was confirmed by the BO bond shifting toward lower binding energies in XPS. Severe AlO interferences precluded evidence for tetrahedral B(OH)4(-) complexation. No evidence for co-precipitation was obtained.