Adsorptive removal of nitrate and phosphate anions from aqueous solutions using functionalised SBA-15: Effects of the organic functional group



Adsorption of nitrate and monovalent phosphate anions from aqueous solutions on mono, di- and tri-ammonium-functionalised mesoporous SBA-15 silica was investigated. The adsorbents were prepared via a post-synthesis grafting method, using either 3-aminopropyltrimethoxysilane (N-silane) or [1-(2-aminoethyl)-3-aminopropyl]trimethoxysilane (NN-silane) or 1-[3-(trimethoxysilyl)-propyl]-diethylenetriamine (NNN-silane), followed by acidification in HCl solution to convert the attached surface amino groups to positively charged ammonium moieties. The nominal loading of amino moieties on the SBA-15 surface was varied from 5% to 20% as organoalkoxysilane/silica molar ratio. The adsorption experiments were conducted batchwise at room temperature. Results showed that adsorption capacity increased with increasing the concentration of monoammonium groups on the SBA-15 adsorbent. Nitrate adsorption capacity increased from 0.34 to 0.66 mmol equation image adsorbent while phosphate adsorption capacity increased from 0.34 to 0.63 mmol equation image adsorbent when the molar ratio organoalkoxysilane/silica was varied from 5% to 20%, respectively. Also, for the same organoalkoxysilane/silica molar ratio of 10%, the adsorption capacity increased with the increase of the number of protonated amines in the functional groups. Therefore, maximum adsorption capacities of 0.80, 1.16 and 1.38 mmol equation image adsorbent and 0.72, 0.82 and 1.17 mmol equation image adsorbent were obtained using mono-, di- and triammonium functionalised SBA-15 adsorbents, respectively. © 2011 Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering