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Environmental problems - Chemical approaches
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Adsorptive removal of ammonium ion from aqueous solution using surfactant-modified alumina

Tien Duc Pham A D , Thi Trang Do A , Van Lau Ha A , Thi Hai Yen Doan A , Thi Anh Huong Nguyen A , Thanh Duc Mai B , Motoyoshi Kobayashi C and Yasuhisa Adachi C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Faculty of Chemistry, VNU – University of Science, Vietnam National University, Hanoi, 19 Le Thanh Tong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi 10000, Vietnam.

B Centre for Environmental Technology and Sustainable Development (CETASD), VNU – University of Science, Vietnam National University, Hanoi, 334 Nguyen Trai, Thanh Xuan, Hanoi 10000, Vietnam.

C Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tennodai 1-1-1, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8572, Japan.

D Corresponding author. Email: tienduchphn@gmail.com

Environmental Chemistry 14(5) 327-337 https://doi.org/10.1071/EN17102
Submitted: 4 January 2017  Accepted: 27 May 2017   Published: 22 June 2017

Environmental context. Ammonium ion, an inorganic pollutant in agricultural land, can induce eutrophication, impacting on water quality. We investigate the adsorption of ammonium ion on surfactant-modified alumina and demonstrate highly efficient removal of ammonium ions by the alumina from two agricultural water samples. Adsorption mechanisms are also proposed based on adsorption isotherms, surface modification and the change in surface charge.

Abstract. The adsorptive removal of ammonium ions (NH4+) from aqueous solution using surfactant-modified alumina (SMA) was investigated. The optimum NH4+ adsorption removal conditions on SMA were systematically studied and found to be pH 4, contact time 180 min, adsorbent dosage 30 mg mL–1 and ionic strength 1 mM NaCl. The equilibrium concentration of NH4+ was measured by capillary electrophoresis with capacitively coupled contactless conductivity detection (CE-C4D) and spectrophotometry. Surface modification of α-Al2O3 with the anionic surfactant sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) at high salt concentration induced a significant increase of removal efficiency. The change in surface charge and surface modification of α-Al2O3 by pre-adsorption of SDS and subsequent adsorption of NH4+ were evaluated by zeta potential measurements and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy. Under optimum adsorption conditions, NH4+ removal from two agricultural water samples achieved very high removal efficiencies of 99.5 and 96.5 %. The adsorption of NH4+ onto SMA increases with decreasing NaCl concentration because desorption of SDS from the α-Al2O3 surface is minimised. Experimental results of NH4+–SMA adsorption isotherms at different ionic strengths can be represented well by a two-step adsorption model. Based on adsorption isotherms, surface charge effect and surface modification, we suggest that the adsorption mechanism of NH4+ onto SMA was mainly electrostatic attraction between cationic NH4+ and the negatively charged SMA surface.

Additional keywords: adsorption, α-alumina; CE-C4D, FT-IR, surface charge effect, two-step adsorption model.


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