water, water quality, drinking water, corrosion, distribution system, inhibitor, blended orthophosphate


The impact of blended orthophosphate (BOP) inhibitor addition on the corrosion of iron, copper, and lead in drinking water distribution systems was studied under changing water quality environment. Release of iron, copper, and lead were monitored at varying inhibitor doses and changing blends of source waters (groundwater, surface water, and desalinated water). Solid corrosion products on pipe surfaces under BOP treatment were evaluated with surface characterization techniques. Performance of the BOP inhibitor was compared to other corrosion control strategies. Iron scales for iron and galvanized steel coupons incubated in different blended waters in the presence of BOP inhibitor were analyzed by X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) for surface composition. Identified iron corrosion products were ferric oxide (Fe2O3), magnetite (Fe3O4), and hydrated ferric oxide (FeOOH), in addition to ferric phosphate (FePO4) on coupons exposed to BOP inhibitor. Variations of water quality did not significantly affect the distribution of solid iron forms on surface films. Thermodynamic modeling indicated siderite (FeCO3) was the controlling solid phase of iron release. XPS indicated addition of BOP inhibitor produced a solid phosphate film in the iron scale which could inhibit iron release. Impact of BOP, orthophosphate, and pH adjustment on iron release in a distribution system was examined. Iron release was sensitive to water quality variations (alkalinity and chloride) associated with source and blends of finished water. Finished waters with high alkalinity content (between 149 and 164 mg/L as CaCO3) consistently mitigated iron release regardless of inhibitor use. Dissolved iron constituted about 10% of total iron release. Empirical models were developed that related water quality, inhibitor type and dose to iron release. The BOP inhibitor minimized total iron release followed closely by increasing pH (between 7.9 and 8.1), while orthophosphate dose did not affect iron release. Temperature (ranged from 21.2 to 25.3) had limited influence on iron release with BOP treatment. Monitoring copper release showed that dissolved copper was the dominant form in the effluent, at about 88%. BOP inhibitor doses of 0.5 to 2.0 mg/L proved beneficial in controlling copper concentrations to an average of below 0.5 mg/L. Control of copper release improved with increasing BOP dose, despite changes in alkalinity. Elevation of pH by 0.3 unit beyond pHs (between 7.9 and 8.1) resulted in noticeable decrease in copper concentrations of about 30%, but was more sensitive to higher alkalinity (146 to 151 mg/L as CaCO3) than BOP treatment. Developed empirical models confirmed the importance of BOP inhibitor dose, pH increase, and alkalinity content on copper release. Statistical comparison of the corrosion control strategies proved the advantage of BOP inhibitor, at all doses, over pH elevation in controlling copper release. The BOP inhibitor mitigated lead release below action level, and consistently outperformed pH elevation, in all water quality conditions. XPS analysis identified lead dioxide (PbO2), lead oxide (PbO), cerussite (PbCO3), and hydrocerussite (Pb3(CO3)2(OH)2) as the corrosion products in the scale of lead/tin coupons exposed to BOP inhibitor. XPS and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) analysis suggested cerussite or hydrocerussite is the controlling solid phase of lead release. Thermodynamic models for cerussite and hydrocerussite grossly over predicted actual concentrations. Solubility and equilibrium relationships suggested the possibility of a lead orthophosphate solid that would describe the effectiveness of BOP inhibitor, although no lead-phosphate solid was detected by surface analysis. BOP inhibitor appeared to have mitigated lead release by forming a surface film between lead scale and the bulk water.


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Graduation Date



Taylor, James S.


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Degree Program

Environmental Engineering








Release Date

September 2008

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)