Effective treatment of nutrients by adsorption onto the surface of a modified clay and a toxicity evaluation of the adsorbent

Soonjae Lee, Kyu Sang Kwon, Jae Chun Ryu, Mi Kyung Song, Stephan Pflugmacher, Chanhyuk Park, Sang Hyup Lee, Chul Hwi Park, Jae Woo Choi

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5 Scopus citations


A pure clay ball and surface-modified clay ball were investigated to remove phosphate from synthetic wastewater; phosphate causes eutrophication in hydro-ecological systems. Adsorption tests of phosphate from aqueous solutions onto two types of adsorbents were conducted. The maximum phosphate adsorption capacities of the pure and surface-modified clay ball were found to be 0.084 and 8.869 mg/g, respectively. In a fixed-bed column packed with surface-modified clay balls, the first breakthrough of phosphate appeared after approximately 4000 min. In addition, the phosphate adsorbed on the surface-modified clay ball was effectively desorbed using a 1 M zirconium sulfate solution, and the adsorbent was regenerated for four adsorption and three desorption cycles by maintaining the adsorption capacity at the value before regeneration. X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM)/energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX), and Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET) analysis method were performed to reveal the characteristics of the surface-modified clay ball. Cytotoxicity experiment was conducted on the developed adsorbents, and as a result, these showed low cytotoxic effect on the human cells. These results indicated that the surface-modified clay ball, due to the low cost, high adsorption capacity, and non-toxicity, has the potential to be utilized in the cost-effective removal of phosphate from aqueous solutions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2015

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© 2015 Springer International Publishing Switzerland.


  • Adsorption
  • Clay
  • Phosphate
  • Surface modification
  • Toxicity


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