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Removal of heavy metals from wastewaters by use of natural zeolites
In the present study, clinoptilolite rich local natural zeolite was proposed as an ion-exchanger for the removal of heavy metals (Pb2+, Cu2+, Zn2+) from wastewaters.Natural zeolite samples were exposed to a simple pretreatment process which included washing and drying to remove impurities and dust.Thermal and adsorption related properties of washed and original zeolite samples were determined by TGA and N2 adsorption analyses. In TGA analyses, average water content for washed and original samples were found as 9.44 and 10.13 % respectively. In N2 adsorption studies, both washed and original samples showed the characteristic Type IIb isotherm. BET surface areas of the samples were calculated as 39.73 and 47.72 m2/g for washed and original samples respectively.Pretreatment process was found to improve the adsorption capacity of clinoptilolite due to the removal of impurities and dust.In ion-exchange studies, efficiency of natural zeolite in removal of heavy metals from the solutions was investigated based on some physical and chemical variables. For this purpose, particle size and the amount of zeolite in the solution, contact time of the metal containing solution with zeolite were selected as physical variables and pH, metal concentration of the solution, and the presence of other ions were selected as chemical variables. The chemical analyses of all exchange solutions were performed by using ICP-AES. Removal % of the metal ions from the solutions were obtained. Based on the experimental results, zeolite exhibited a significant affinity to Pb2+, followed by Cu2+ and Zn2+ even in the presence of competing cations.To test the applicability of natural zeolite for the treatment of Acid Mine Drainage (AMD), zeolite samples were allowed to contact with simulated AMD solutions.Consequently, natural zeolite was found to be an efficient ion exchanger for removing lead, copper and zinc ions from aqueous solutions.