The adsorption properties of clay minerals (e.g. montmorillonite and palygorskite) have been improved through chemical treatment methods. However, the addition of extra chemicals is often not friendly to the environment and powdered clay-mineral adsorbents are inconvenient for some applications. To overcome these drawbacks in the present study, granular montmorillonite-palygorskite adsorbents (GMPA) were successfully prepared using Na-alginate and thermal treatments to improve heavy metal removal from water. The properties of GMPA samples under different calcination temperatures were examined using thermogravimetric (TG) analysis, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD), and specific surface area (BET). The results indicated that loss of mass by GMPA relative to the untreated montmorillonite-palygorskite was due to the loss of water, adsorbed Na-alginate, and mineral decomposition during thermal treatment. Changes in the morphology and crystallinity were significant at calcination temperatures from 500°C to 1000°C. The layered morphology totally disappeared after calcination at 1000°C, while transformation of the montmorillonite and palygorskite to a non-crystalline material was almost complete at 800°C and new crystalline phases appeared. Calcination temperature had a significant influence on the specific surface areas and pore volumes of GMPA. Both the changes in texture and chemical structure affected Pb2+ and Cu2+ removal. The GMPA sample produced at a 600°C calcination temperature was the most promising adsorbent for heavy metal removal from water.

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