Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 6153–6166 | Cite as

One-step synthesis of versatile magnetic nanoparticles for efficiently removing emulsified oil droplets and cationic and anionic heavy metal ions from the aqueous environment

  • Ting Lü
  • Dongming Qi
  • Dong Zhang
  • Chuan Zhang
  • Hongting ZhaoEmail author
Research Article


Versatile polyethyleneimine (PEI)-coated Fe3O4 magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) have been synthesized by a one-step solvothermal method. The morphologies, structures, and properties of MNPs prepared for different reaction times have been characterized through various techniques. The synthesized MNPs were then used to separate emulsified oil and cationic and anionic heavy metal ions from the aqueous environment; moreover, the effects of the temperature, pH, and ionic strength of aqueous media, the solvothermal reaction time, and the number of reuse cycles on the removal efficiency have been investigated in detail. The results showed that pseudo-second-order kinetics and the Langmuir isotherm well described the adsorption processes of Cu(II) and Cr(VI). The Langmuir model yielded maximum adsorption capacities of 66.6 mg g−1 for Cu(II) and 54.5 mg g−1 for Cr(VI) at pH 5.0 and 25 °C. The synthetic MNPs could also efficiently separate diesel oil or olive oil droplets stabilized by sodium dodecyl sulfate from aqueous media. Moreover, these MNPs could be recycled five times without showing significant loss in separation efficiency. Notably, the synthesized PEI-coated MNPs could simultaneously separate emulsified oil and cationic and anionic heavy metal ions from multicomponent wastewater. Such versatile PEI-coated MNPs displayed good affinity towards emulsified oil and cationic and anionic heavy metal ions, showing great potential for practical applications in the treatment of complicated industrial wastewater matrices.

Graphical abstract

Simultaneous separation of emulsified oil and cationic and anionic heavy metal ions from aqueous media by using polyethyleneimine-coated Fe3O4 magnetic nanoparticles.


Polyethyleneimine-coated Fe3O4 Emulsified oil-water separation Heavy metal ion adsorption Recyclability 


Funding information

The authors wish to thank the support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (#21878064 and #21506045), and the Zhejiang Provincial Public Technology Application Research Project (#2017C33101).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Environmental Materials and Applications, College of Materials and Environmental EngineeringHangzhou Dianzi UniversityHangzhouChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Advanced Textile Materials and Manufacturing Technology, Ministry of EducationZhejiang Sci-Tech UniversityHangzhouChina

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