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J Colloid Interface Sci. 2006 Nov 15;303(2):337-45. Epub 2006 Aug 17.

Adsorption mechanisms of selenium oxyanions at the aluminum oxide/water interface.

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  • Department of Soil Science, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5A8, Canada. derek.peak@usask.ca


Sorption processes at the mineral/water interface typically control the mobility and bioaccessibility of many inorganic contaminants such as oxyanions. Selenium is an important micronutrient for human and animal health, but at elevated concentrations selenium toxicity is a concern. The objective of this study was to determine the bonding mechanisms of selenate (SeO4(2-) and selenite (SeO3(2-) on hydrous aluminum oxide (HAO) over a wide range of reaction pH using extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) spectroscopy. Additionally, selenate adsorption on corundum (alpha-Al2O3) was studied to determine if adsorption mechanisms change as the aluminum oxide surface structure changes. The overall findings were that selenite forms a mixture of outer-sphere and inner-sphere bidentate-binuclear (corner-sharing) surface complexes on HAO, selenate forms primarily outer-sphere surface complexes on HAO, and on corundum selenate forms outer-sphere surface complexes at pH 3.5 but inner-sphere monodentate surface complexes at pH 4.5 and above. It is possible that the lack of inner-sphere complex formation at pH 3.5 is caused by changes in the corundum surface at low pH or secondary precipitate formation. The results are consistent with a structure-based reactivity for metal oxides, wherein hydrous metal oxides form outer-sphere complexes with sulfate and selenate, but inner-sphere monodentate surface complexes are formed between sulfate and selenate and alpha-Me2O3.

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