Competitive Adsorption of Uranyl and Toxic Trace Metal Ions at MFe2O4-montmorillonite (M = Mn, Fe, Zn, Co, or Ni) Interfaces

  • Xiaoqiang Jiang
  • Jianan Nie
  • Liang BianEmail author
  • Faqin Dong
  • Mianxin SongEmail author
  • Yi He
  • Huichao He
  • Zhiqin Zheng
  • Tingting Huo
  • Bowen Li
  • Nelson Belzile
  • Shuhui Sun
  • Hao Zou


Adsorption of uranyl (UO22+) ions to mineral surfaces is a potentially effective method for removing this hazardous metal from water, but other toxic trace metal ions (Xn+: Rb+, Sr2+, Cr3+, Mn2+, Ni2+, Zn2+, Cd2+) in uraniferous wastewaters compete with UO22+ for adsorption sites and thus may diminish the capacity of adsorbents to sequester UO22+. A better understanding of competitive adsorption among these metal ions and the development of better adsorbents are, therefore, of critical importance. The purpose of the present study was to synthesize and characterize magnetic adsorbents, consisting of MFe2O4 (M = Mn, Fe, Zn, Co, or Ni) nanoparticles synthesized on montmorillonite (Mnt) edge sites, and to investigate their use as adsorbents for UO22+, including competitive adsorption with trace metal ions. Selective adsorption was studied using Langmuir, Freundlich, and Dubinin-Radushkevich isotherms, and the results showed that Xn+ ions were adsorbed primarily on MFe2O4-montmorillonite surfaces, and the UO22+ ions were adsorbed on the interfaces between montmorillonite edge surfaces and MFe2O4 nanoparticles. Using the Freundlich model, the interface adsorption capacity of UO22+ reached 25.1 mg·g–1 in mixed solution. Further, the UO22+ and Cr3+ ions had a redox reaction on the interfaces with synergistic adsorption. Herein, the adsorption capacity of Cr3+ was 60.2 mg·g–1 using the Freundlich isotherm. The results demonstrated that the MFe2O4-montmorillonite with highly selective adsorption of UO22+ ions is applicable to UO22+ treatment in the presence of toxic trace metal ions.

Graphical abstract



Adsorption Ferrite Interface Montmorillonite Uranyl 



The authors acknowledge funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41872039 and 41831285), the One-Thousand Talents Scheme in Sichuan Province, Sichuan Science and Technology Program (2018JY0462), and Longshan Fund of Southwest University of Science and Technology (17QR004).

Supplementary material

42860_2019_28_MOESM1_ESM.doc (1.9 mb)
ESM 1 (DOC 1980 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Clay Minerals Society 2019
AE: Chun-Hui Zhou

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaoqiang Jiang
    • 1
  • Jianan Nie
    • 2
  • Liang Bian
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Faqin Dong
    • 1
  • Mianxin Song
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yi He
    • 1
  • Huichao He
    • 1
  • Zhiqin Zheng
    • 1
  • Tingting Huo
    • 1
  • Bowen Li
    • 1
  • Nelson Belzile
    • 1
  • Shuhui Sun
    • 1
  • Hao Zou
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Solid Waste Treatment and Resource Recycle, Ministry of Education, State Key Laboratory Cultivation Base for Nonmetal Composites and Functional MaterialsSouth West University of Science and TechnologyMianyangChina
  2. 2.Institute of Gem and Material TechnologyHebei GEO UniversityShijiazhuangChina

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