Application of maghemite nanoparticles as sorbents for the removal of Cu(II), Mn(II) and U(VI) ions from aqueous solution in acid mine drainage conditions.

The adsorptive removal of Cu(II), Mn(II) and U(VI) by maghemite nanoparticles (NPs) was investigated under acid mine drainage (AMD) conditions to assess NP potential for remediating AMD-contaminated water. The effects of time, NP and metal concentration, as well as manganese and sulphate ions were quantified at pH 3. Adsorption of all three ions was rapid, and equilibrium was attained in 5 min or less. 56 % of Cu, 53 % of Mn and 49 % of U were adsorbed. In addition, adsorption efficiencies were enhanced by >= 10 % in the presence of manganese and sulphate ions, although Cu sorption was reduced in 1: 2 Cu-to-Mn solutions. Adsorption also increased with pH: 86 % Cu, 62 % Mn and 77 % U were removed from solution at pH 9 and increasing initial metal concentrations. Increasing NP concentrations did not, however, always increase metal removal. Kinetics data were best described by a pseudo-second-order model, implying chemisorption, while isotherm data were better fitted by the Freundlich model. Metal removal by NPs was then tested in AMD-contaminated surface and ground water. Removal efficiencies of up to 46 % for Cu and 54 % for Mn in surface water and 8 % for Cu and 50 % for Mn in ground water were achieved, confirming that maghemite NPs can be applied for the removal of these ions from AMD-contaminated waters. Notably, whereas sulphates may increase adsorption efficiencies, high Mn concentrations in AMD will likely inhibit Cu sorption.
Copper, Manganese, Uranium, Adsorption, Acid mine drainage
Etale, A., Tutu, H. and Drake, D.C.