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Removal of Heavy Metals from Aqueous Solutions by Precipitation-Filtration Using Novel Organo-Phosphorus Ligands

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An organophosphorus mixture of sodium mono- and di-(n-hexa-decyl) phosphinate was synthesized and purified, and then used as a ligand to remove heavy metals by precipitation from aqueous nitrate, chloride, and sulfate solutions. The new ligand offers more advantages over the previously studied sodium dioctyl and dodecyl phosphinates. The sodium form of the mono- and di-(n-hexa-decyl) phosphinate has a much lower solubility in water, which contributed to much lower back contamination and much lower loss of the reagent, even when excess amount of ligand was employed. Moreover, an excess amount of the ligand did not alter the filtration characteristics of the resultant precipitate. The heavy metals: lead, cadmium, mercury, cobalt, and nickel were precipitated with the sodium mono- and di-(n-hexa-decyl) phosphinate, NaL, in the form of PbL2(s), CdL2(s), HgL2(s), CoL2(s), and NiL2(s). In the absence of free acid in the feed, a maximum removal of each metal corresponded to the stoichiometric ratio. The residual concentrations of each of the metals at the optimum conditions were measured for the different media and found to be lower than 10 ppb, lower than the acceptable levels for most regions. Lead, as a model heavy metal, was studied in more detail. Adding an acid to the feed solution reduced the removal of lead as some of the phosphinate ligand was converted to the acid form. The presence of chloride and sulfate in the feed solution; up to mole ratios to lead of 5000, and of calcium in the feed solution; up to mole ratio to lead of 200, had no effect on the removal of lead. The ligand was more selective to lead than the other four metals, and the selectivity was in the order Pb > Cd > Co & Ni > Hg. The ligand was regenerated up to 99.99% and the metals were recovered in 100 times more concentrated aqueous solutions.

Keywords: Cd; Co; Hg; Ni; Pb; decontamination; heavy metal; ligand; phosphinates; treatment; wastewater

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Materials and Metallurgical Engineering, Al-Fateh University, Tripolis Libya 2: Department of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada

Publication date: January 1, 2008

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