Montmorillonite surface properties and sorption characteristics for heavy metal removal from aqueous solutions

Christianah Olakitan Ijagbemi, Mi Hwa Baek, Dong Su Kim

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325 Scopus citations


Surface properties of montmorillonite (MMT) and its adsorption characteristics for heavy metals have been investigated with nickel and copper as sorbate from aqueous solutions. Employing the potentiometric and mass titration techniques in batch experimental methods, the point of zero charge (PZC) and point of zero net proton charge (PZNPC) of MMT edges at different ionic strengths present pHPZC and pHPZNPC to be 3.4 ± 0.2. A crossing point was observed for the proton adsorption vs. pH curves at different ionic strengths of KCl electrolyte and in investigating MMT remediation potentialities as sorbent for heavy metals polluted waters, the effects of heavy metal concentration, pH, MMT dosage, reaction time and temperature for Cu2+ and Ni2+ uptake were studied. The sorption of metal ions by MMT was pH dependent and the adsorption kinetics revealed sorption rate could be well fitted by the pseudo-second-order rate model. The data according to mass transfer and intraparticle diffusion models confirmed diffusion of solutes inside the clay particles as the rate-controlling step and more important for the adsorption rate than the external mass transfer. Adsorption isotherms showed that the uptake of Cu2+ and Ni2+ could be described by the Langmuir model and from calculations on thermodynamic parameters, the positive ΔG° values at different temperatures suggest that the sorption of both metal ions were non-spontaneous. Change in enthalpy (ΔH°) for Ni2+ and Cu2+ were 28.9 and 13.27 kJ/mol K respectively, hence an endothermic diffusion process, as ion uptake increased with increase in temperature. Values of ΔS° indicate low randomness at the solid/solution interface during the uptake of both Cu2+ and Ni2+ by MMT. Montmorillonite has a considerable potential for the removal of heavy metal cationic species from aqueous solution and wastewater.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)538-546
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Issue number1
StatePublished - 15 Jul 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors appreciate the support of Schlumberger Stiching Fund towards the project.


  • Copper
  • Heavy metal sorption
  • Montmorillonite
  • Nickel
  • Surface properties


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