The conditions of cationic exchange with the use of recycling polystyrene derivative, the product of sulfonation by silica sulfuric acid



Growing amount of waste plastics has become an environmental problem on a global scale. This study presents an investigation of the conditions of cleaning water from heavy metal ions using chemically recycled polystyrene. To get effective ion exchangers, the sulfonation of virgin polystyrene and expanded polystyrene wastes were obtained using silica sulfuric acid. As it turned out, the use of this solid sulfonating agent simplifies the separation of the polymeric product from the acid and the solvent in comparison to conventional sulfonation methods. The ion exchange behavior of copper and zinc cations in the yielded sulfonated derivatives of polystyrene was studied. Batch shaking adsorption experiments depending on contact time, pH, temperature, and dosage of adsorbate were carried out. The stability of resin to cyclical adsorption and regeneration (column experiment) was also investigated. We report that resins have a high adsorption efficiency with total ion exchange capacity (IEC) about 2.6 meq g−1, which drops with decreasing pH owing to competition between protons H+ and metal cations, whereas with the increasing resin doses the removal of cations rises for a constant initial metal concentration. The speed of cation exchange for yielded adsorbents was even better than for commercial resins. After 360 cyclical adsorption and regeneration in column, resin had working IEC of about 2.3 meq g−1. The study shows that cation exchange resin from polystyrene wastes can be used as an efficient adsorbent for the removal of heavy metal ions from water. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci., 2013