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A major development in the last four years in the field of ion adsorption by clays is the convergence of the “surface complexation” model and the Gouy-Stern description in terms of the electric double-layer structure. A common ground was reached in the form of so-called “triple” layer models which lend themselves well to generalized modeling efforts based on experimental data. An excessive number of system parameters, however, then becomes available for fitting purposes. Moreover, the apparent need to refine descriptions of lateral surface heterogeneity leads to sobering thoughts as to the ability of such theories to predict, for example, heavy metal adsorption in natural formations. A recent examination of ion-exchange equations in ternary systems has led to the reassuring suggestion that many such systems can be described by means of the information available from constituent binary systems.

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