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Water Res. 2001 Nov;35(16):3771-6.

Retention of inorganic oxyanions by organo-kaolinite.

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Geology Department, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Kenosha 53141-2000, USA.


A natural kaolinite (KGa-1b) was treated with the surfactant hexadecyltrimethylammonium bromide (HDTMA-Br) to a level twice that of the cation exchange capacity (CEC). Sorption of nitrate, arsenate, and chromate by the resultant organo-kaolinite was then quantified. Sorption of each oxyanion was well-described by the Langmuir isotherm. Sorption of nitrate was the greatest, with a Langmuir sorption maximum of 24 mmol/kg, although chromate showed the highest sorption affinity of 20 L/kg. Sorption of nitrate, arsenate, and chromate on organo-kaolinite was at least two orders of magnitude greater than their sorption on unmodified kaolinite. Desorption of the bromide counterion indicated that each of the oxyanions was retained by ion exchange on an HDTMA bilayer formed on the organo-kaolinite. Chromate sorption on the organo-kaolinite was unaffected by solution pH in the range 5-9, but decreased at pH 11 due to competition of OH- for anion exchange sites. Similarly, chromate exchange by organo-kaolinite was reduced in the presence of high background levels of chloride. Chromate was effectively retained when flowing through a packed bed of organo-kaolinite: after an input of more than 40 pore volumes, the effluent concentration of chromate was less than 10% of the input concentration, and 90% of the original HDTMA remained on the organo-kaolinite. The results demonstrate that properly prepared organoclays can remove oxyanions, as well as nonpolar organics, from contaminated waters.

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