Zeolite performance in removal of multicomponent heavy metal contamination from wastewater

Natalie Finish, Pia Ramos, Eitan J.C. Borojovich, Offer Zeiri, Yair Amar, Moshe Gottlieb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Efficient removal of heavy metal pollutants from wastewater by ion-exchange sorbents requires knowledge and understanding of the interplay between the adsorption patterns of the different components. The present study elucidates the simultaneous adsorption characteristics of six toxic heavy metal cations (Cd2+, Cr3+, Cu2+, Ni2+, Pb2+, and Zn2+) by two synthetic (13X and 4 A) and one natural (clinoptilolite) zeolite from solutions containing equimolar mixtures of the six metals. Equilibrium adsorption isotherms and equilibration dynamics were obtained by ICP-OES and complemented by EDXRF. An order of magnitude lower adsorption efficiency was exhibited by clinoptilolite (maximum of 0.12 mmol ions/g zeolite), relative to that obtained by the synthetic zeolites 13X and 4 A (a maximum of 2.9 and 1.65 mmol ions/g zeolite respectively). The strongest affinities to both zeolites were demonstrated by Pb2+ and Cr3+ (1.5 and 0.85 mmol/g zeolite respectively for 13X, and 0.8 and 0.4 mmol/g zeolite respectively for 4 A adsorbed from the highest solution concentration). The weakest affinities were observed by Cd2+ (0.1 mmol/g for both zeolites), Ni2+ (0.2 and 0.1 mmol/g for 13X and 4 A respectively), and Zn2+ (0.1 mmol/g for both zeolites). Large differences were observed between the two synthetic zeolites in terms of their equilibration dynamics and adsorption isotherms. Pronounced maxima were displayed in the adsorption isotherms for zeolites 13X and 4 A. The decline in adsorption of the weaker adsorbing ions with the increase in total solution concentration was attributed to the thermodynamic equilibrium between the ions adsorbed on the zeolite surface and those in the solution. Regeneration by 3 M KCL eluting solution resulted in considerable reduction in adsorption capacities following each desorption cycle.

Original languageEnglish
Article number131784
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
StatePublished - 5 Sep 2023


  • Adsorption isotherm
  • Faujasite
  • Molecular sieves
  • Toxic water contaminants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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