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Defluoridation using novel chemically treated carbonized bone meal: batch and dynamic performance with scale-up studies


Novel defluoridating adsorbent was synthesized by chemical treatment of carbonized bone meal using aluminum sulfate and calcium oxide. Precursor for chemical treatment was prepared by partial carbonization of raw bone meal at 550 °C for 4 h. Maximum fluoride removal capacity was 150 mg/g when carbonized bone meal (100 g/L) was treated with aluminum sulfate (500 g/L) and calcium oxide (15 g/L). Morphological analysis revealed formation of a coating layer consisting of aluminum compounds on the precursor surface. This was verified by stretching frequency of aluminum hydroxide (602 cm−1) in the infrared spectra. Presence of hydroxylapatite (2θ = 30° and 2θ = 24°) and aluminum mineral phases (2θ = 44°) in the adsorbent were identified from the X-ray diffractograms. Adsorption capacity decreased from 150 mg/g (30 °C) to 120 mg/g (50 °C) indicating exothermic adsorption. Adsorption experiments under batch kinetic mode were simulated using shrinking core model. Effective fluoride diffusivity in the adsorbent and the mass transfer coefficient were estimated as 5.8 × 10−12 m2/s and 9 × 10−4 m/s, respectively. Desorption was maximum at basic pH and desorption efficiency was decreased by 31% after third cycle. Dynamic filtration with artificially fluoride-spiked solution showed that the empty bed contact time for a packed column with equal weight of carbonized and chemically treated adsorbent was 4.7 min and number of bed volumes treated (till WHO limit of 1.5 mg/L) was 340 for a column of 3-cm diameter and 18-cm length. The system was successfully tested using contaminated groundwater from an affected area. Fixed-bed column experiments were simulated from the first principles using convective pore diffusion-adsorption model for both synthetic solution and contaminated groundwater. Axial dispersion coefficient was found to be one order of magnitude less than the pore diffusivity indicating dominance of fluoride diffusion within porous network of adsorbent. The developed adsorbent exhibited antibacterial property as well.

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Fig. 1
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Fig. 5


A :

amount of bone meal before carbonization (g)

B :

amount of bone meal after carbonization (g)

C0 :

initial fluoride concentration (mg/L)

Ce :

equilibrium fluoride concentration (mg/L)

Cads :

adsorbed fluoride concentration (mg/L)

Cdes :

desorbed fluoride concentration (mg/L)

D :

desorption percentage (%)

m :

mass of adsorbent used (g)

qe :

equilibrium uptake capacity (mg/g)

v :

volume of adsorbate solution used (L)

yield :

yield percentage of carbonized bone meal (%)


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The authors would also like to acknowledge the help of Amarnath Dutta and Kallol Paul for their help in carrying some of the experimental works.


This work is supported by a grant from the Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi, Government of India, under the scheme no: DST/TM/WTI/2K15/22(G) dated 31-03-2016. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of DST.

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Correspondence to Sirshendu De.

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Chatterjee, S., Mukherjee, M. & De, S. Defluoridation using novel chemically treated carbonized bone meal: batch and dynamic performance with scale-up studies. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 18161–18178 (2018).

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  • Chemical treatment
  • Carbonized bone meal
  • Fluoride
  • Adsorption
  • Fixed bed
  • Scale up