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Competitive Removal of Heavy Metals from Aqueous Solutions by Montmorillonitic and Calcareous Clays

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A batch sorption method was used to study the removal of few toxic metals onto the Late Cretaceous clays of Aleg formation (Coniacian–Lower Campanian system), Tunisia, in single, binary and multi-component systems. The collected clay samples were used as adsorbents for the removal of Pb(II), Cd(II), Cu(II) and Zn(II) from aqueous solutions. Results show that the natural clay samples were mainly composed of silica, alumina, iron and magnesium oxides. N2-adsorption measurements indicated mesoporous materials with modest specific surface area of <71 m2/g. Carbonate minerals were the most influencing parameters for heavy metal removal by natural clays in both single and multi-element systems. The affinity sequence was Pb(II)>Cu(II)>Zn(II)>Cd(II) due to the variable physical properties of the studied metals. The maximum adsorption capacity reached 131.58 mg/g in single systems, but decreased to <50.10 mg/g in mixed systems. In single, binary and muti-element systems, the studied clay samples removed substantial amounts of heavy metals, showing better effectiveness than the relevant previous studies. These results suggest that the studied clay samples of the Late Cretaceous clays from Tunisia can be effectively used as natural adsorbents for the removal of toxic heavy metals in aqueous systems.

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The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by Borj Cedria Science and Technology Park, Tunisia, in cooperation with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). The help of Mrs. Seiko Nemoto, assistant researcher in JIRCAS, Tsukuba, Mrs. Hiroko Sado and Mr Koichi Shimotori, research associate in the Chemical Analysis Division, University of Tsukuba, is greatly appreciated. The authors also extend their thanks to Professor Ahmet Sari from Gaziosmanpaşa University, Turkey for his prompt reviews and the time allocated to our manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ali Sdiri.

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Sdiri, A., Higashi, T., Chaabouni, R. et al. Competitive Removal of Heavy Metals from Aqueous Solutions by Montmorillonitic and Calcareous Clays. Water Air Soil Pollut 223, 1191–1204 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11270-011-0937-z

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  • Heavy metals
  • Wastewaters
  • Clays
  • Competitive adsorption
  • Relative binding strength