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Adsorption of Iron(II) from Acid Mine Drainage Contaminated Groundwater Using Coal Fly Ash, Coal Bottom Ash, and Bentonite Clay


Acid mine drainage (AMD) is a persisting environmental problem and a grievous nuisance in the mining sector. In this study, iron (Fe(II)) removal was tested in AMD samples collected from the Enugu Okpara abandoned coal mine (Nigeria), having iron concentrations of ∼1300 mg/l. Digestion, toxicity characteristic leaching procedure (TCLP), and batch adsorption tests using coal bottom ash (BA), bentonite clay (BC), and coal fly ash (FA) were performed. Apart from elucidating the effects of adsorbent dose and initial Fe(II) concentrations on the maximum adsorption capacity (q e ) of the adsorbents, the experimental data were also fitted to well-known adsorption isotherms and kinetic models. The results from batch tests showed that the optimum adsorbent dosages for BA, BC, and FA were found to be 3, 4, and 4 g per 100 ml, respectively. Among the different adsorption isotherm models tested, the Temkin model fitted the experimental data well for Fe(II) removal. Results from kinetic analysis showed that the Fe(II) removal efficiency increased with an increase in the contact time and then remained almost constant after 30 min for the three tested adsorbents.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3


α and β :

Elovich constants

B :

Constant relating to heat of sorption (J/mol)

B DR :

Same as k

b T :

Temkin’s isotherm constant

C e :

Equilibrium concentration (mg/l)

C o :

Initial adsorbate concentration (mg/l)

E :

Main adsorption energy (kJ/mol)


Polanyi potential (potential energy)

k :

Constant relating to adsorption energy (mol2k/J2)

k 1 :

Pseudo-first-order adsorption constant

K 2 :

Pseudo-second-order adsorption constant

k f :

Freundlich constant (mg/g)

k L :

Langmuir constant (l/mg)

n :

Adsorption intensity (mg/l)

N :

Number of data points

R :

Conventional gas constant = 8.314 kJ/mol/K

R L :

Separation constant

t :

Time (min)

T :

Temperature in Kelvin (K)

Δq :

Standard deviation

q e :

Mass of material adsorbed per unit mass of adsorbent at equilibrium (mg/g)

q e,calc :

Equilibrium capacity calculated from the model (mg/g)

q e,exp :

Equilibrium capacity (mg/g) from the experimental data

q m :

Maximum adsorption capacity (mg/g)

q t :

Amount of material adsorbed at time t (mg/g)

V :

Volume of solution in the reactor (ml)

χ 2 :



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The authors would like to thank DGIS-UNESCO-IHE Programmatic Cooperation (DUPC), Netherlands, for funding the project “Evaluation of two technologies for heavy metal removal” (Project No. D0049, EVOTEC) and the Netherlands Fellowship Programme (NFP) for providing an MSc scholarship for the joint AIT and UNESCO-IHE Master in Environmental Technologies for Sustainable Development. The authors are grateful to the School of Environment, Resources and Development (AIT, Bangkok) for providing analytical and infrastructural support to carry out this research.

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Correspondence to Ajit Annachhatre.

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Orakwue, E.O., Asokbunyarat, V., Rene, E.R. et al. Adsorption of Iron(II) from Acid Mine Drainage Contaminated Groundwater Using Coal Fly Ash, Coal Bottom Ash, and Bentonite Clay. Water Air Soil Pollut 227, 74 (2016).

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  • Acid mine drainage
  • Bottom ash
  • Bentonite clay
  • Fly ash
  • Iron removal
  • Adsorption isotherm
  • Adsorption kinetics