Light-expanded clay aggregate (LECA) as a substrate in constructed wetlands – A review

Rawan Mlih, Franciszek Bydalek, Erwin Klumpp, Nader Yaghi, Roland Bol, Jannis Wenk

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

64 Citations (SciVal)
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Light expanded clay aggregates (LECA) have been increasingly used as substrate material for constructed wetlands given their phosphate removal capacity, mechanical strength, hydraulic conductivity and their plant rooting and biofilm growth supporting structure. This review summarizes the current literature on LECA-based constructed wetlands. Removal performances for main wastewater parameters phosphate, nitrogen species, suspended solids and oxygen demand are tabulated. Both, physical and biological water purification processes in LECA wetlands are discussed. Additional emphasis is on design and layout of LECA wetlands for different types of wastewater, under different climatic conditions and to improve treatment performance in general. LECA life cycle considerations include sourcing, production energy demand, reuse and recycling options for spent wetland substrates, for example as soil amendment. Research and development opportunities were identified for structural and compositional LECA modification to obtain tailored substrates for the use in water treatment and specific treatment tasks. Beyond traditional wastewater contaminants the fate of a wider range of contaminants, including organic trace contaminants, needs to be investigated as high Fe, Al and Ca oxides content of LECA substrates provide adsorptive sites that may facilitate further biological interactions of compounds that are otherwise hard to degrade.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105783
JournalEcological Engineering
Early online date25 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • Adsorption
  • Constructed wetlands
  • LECA
  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphorous
  • Pollutants removal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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