Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, Volume 223, Issue 7, pp 3845–3857 | Cite as

Removal of Uranium(VI), Lead(II) at the Surface of TiO2 Nanotubes Studied by X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy

  • M. Bonato
  • K. V. Ragnarsdottir
  • G. C. Allen


A thin film of well-ordered anatase TiO2 nanotubes prepared by anodic oxidation of titanium metal were synthesised and used as adsorbent medium for the purification of water from aqueous uranium and lead. The amount of subtracted metal ions was quantified by using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy at the surface of the reacted TiO2 surface. Batch experiments for the sorption of U and Pb at the surface of the titania substrate were carried out in separated solution equilibrated with air of uranyl acetate and lead nitrate, in the pH range 3–9. For uranium, the experiments were also repeated in anoxic (N2) atmosphere. The amount of metal ions adsorbed onto the titania medium was quantified by measurements of the surface coverage expressed in atomic percent, by recording high-resolution XPS spectra in the Ti2p, U4f and Pb4f photoelectron regions. Adsorption of the uranyl species in air atmosphere as a function of pH showed an adsorption edge near pH 4 with a maximum at pH 7. At higher pH the presence of very stable uranyl–carbonate complexes prevented any further adsorption. Further adsorption increased until pH 8.5 was obtained when the uranyl solution was purged from dissolved CO2. Lead ion showed a sorption edge at pH 6, with a maximum uptake at pH 8. The results showed that the uptake of uranium and lead on the selected titania medium is remarkably sensitive to the solution pH. This study demonstrates the reliability of this type of material for treating water polluted with heavy metals as well as leachates from radioactive nuclear wastes.


TiO2 nanotubes Water purification XPS Uranium Lead 



The authors would like to acknowledge support (to MB) from the Marie Curie Early Stage Training Programme (MEST-CT-2005-020828) MISSION of the European Commission during the course of this work. Thanks to P. Heard for the preparation of the TEM sample, R. Vincent for the TEM images and diffraction pattern, and K. Hallam for the XRD analysis.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Bonato
    • 1
    • 2
  • K. V. Ragnarsdottir
    • 3
    • 4
  • G. C. Allen
    • 1
  1. 1.Interface Analysis CentreUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Chimie Physique-Matière et RayonnementUniversité Pierre et Marie CurieParisFrance
  3. 3.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  4. 4.Institute of Earth Sciences, School of Engineering and Natural SciencesUniversity of IcelandReykjavikIceland

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