The use of commercially prepared hematite nanoparticles (37.0 nm) was studied as an adsorbent in the removal of Cd(II), Cu(II), Pb(II), and Zn(II) from aqueous solutions. Single-metal adsorption was studied as a function of metal and adsorbent concentrations, whereas binary metal competition was found to be dependent on the molar ratio between the competing metals. Competitive effects indicated that Pb had strong homogenous affinity to the nanohematite surface, and decreased adsorption of Cd, Cu, and Zn occurred when Pb was present in a binary system. Metal adsorption strength to nanohematite at pH 6.0 increased with metal electronegativity: Pb > Cu > Zn ∼ Cd. Equilibrium modeling revealed that the Langmuir–Freundlich composite isotherm adequately described the adsorption and competitive effects of metals to nanohematite, whereas desorption was best described by the Langmuir isotherm. The desorption of metals from nanohematite was found to be pH dependent, with pH 4.0 > pH 6.0 > pH 8.0, and results showed that greater than 65% desorption was achieved at pH 4.0 within three 24-h cycles for all metals. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2012;31:86–92. © 2011 SETAC
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