Surface chemistry of ferrihydrite: Part 1. EXAFS studies of the geometry of coprecipitated and adsorbed arsenate

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
By: , and 



EXAFS spectra were collected on both the As and Fe K-edges from samples of two-line ferrihydrite with adsorbed (ADS) and coprecipitated (CPT) arsenate prepared over a range of conditions and arsenate surface coverages. Spectra also were collected for arsenate adsorbed on the surfaces of three FeOOH crystalline polymorphs, α (goethite), β (akaganeite), and γ (lepidocrocite), and as a free ion in aqueous: solution. Analyses of the As EXAFS show clear evidence for inner sphere bidentate (bridging) arsenate complexes on the ferrihydrite surface and on the surfaces of the crystalline FeOOH polymorphs. The bridging arsenate is attached to adjacent apices of edge-sharing Fe oxyhydroxyl octahedra. The arsenic-iron distance at the interface (3.28 ±0.01Å) is close to that expected for this geometry on the FeOOH polymorph surfaces, but is slightly shorter on the ferrihydrite surfaces (3.25 ± 0.02Å). Mono-dentate arsenate linkages (3.60 ± 0.03Å) also occur on the ferrihydrite, but are not generally observed on the crystalline FeOOH polymorphs. The proportion of monodentate bonds appears largest for adsorption samples with the smallest AsFemolar ratio. In all cases the arsenate tetrahedral complex is relatively undistorted with As-O bonds of 1.66 ± 0.01Å. Precipitation of arsenate or scorodite-like phases was not observed for any samples, all of which were prepared at a pH value of 8.

The Fe EXAFS results confirm that the Fe-Fe correlations in the ferrihydrite are progressively disrupted in the CPT samples as the AsFe ratio is increased. Coherent crystallite size is probably no more than 10 Å in diameter and no Fe oxyhydroxyl octahedra corner-sharing linkages (as would be present in FeOOH polymorphs) are observed at the largest AsFe ratios. Comparison of the number and type of Fe-Fe neighbors with the topological constraints imposed by the arsenate saturation limit in the CPT samples (about 0.7 AsFe) indicates ferrihydrite units consisting mainly of Fe oxyhydroxyl octahedra arranged in short dioctahedral chains with minimal interchain linking by octahedra corners. This is consistent with an enlarged surface area and a larger proportion of sites for bidentate arsenate bonding in CPT samples as compared to the ADS samples, which saturate with arsenate at lower AsFe ratios. The latter samples have larger crystallite sizes and a definite proportion of ferric octahedra sharing corners. The ratio of corner-sharing to edge-sharing Fe oxyhydroxyl octahedra in the ADS samples, and CPT samples with small As loadings, is very similar to what would be present in very small particles of goethite or akaganeite.

The difference in the polymeric structure of ADS and CPT samples at higher AsFe ratios is due to strong arsenate bidentate adsorption that poisons the surface of particles of ferrihydrite precipitated in the presence of substantial arsenate, limiting their normal crystallization, and preventing further Fe-O-Fe polymerization. If the arsenate is applied after precipitation much less adsorption occurs since polymerization has already progressed. In both ADS and CPT samples, Fe-O-Fe polymerization increases with age, though at different rates for each type of sample.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Surface chemistry of ferrihydrite: Part 1. EXAFS studies of the geometry of coprecipitated and adsorbed arsenate
Series title Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
DOI 10.1016/0016-7037(93)90567-G
Volume 57
Issue 10
Year Published 1993
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 19 p.
First page 2251
Last page 2269