In this paper, the role of Cu in the adsorption of the cationic pesticide chlormequat (CCC) on montmorillonite is studied. The adsorption of CCC was measured in various media, e.g. water and aqueous solutions of NaCl, CaCl2 and Ca(NO3)2 at the same ionic strength (I = 0.01 mol l−1).

The retention of CCC on montmorillonite in aqueous media is due principally to a cationic exchange process with inorganic cations which saturate the interlamellar positions on this mineral. However, the amount of inorganic cations liberated from montmorillonite was ~15% less than the amount of CCC adsorbed. This indicates that not all the pesticide was adsorbed through cation exchange.

The adsorption of CCC in aqueous media decreased in the presence of a heavy metal, compared with metal-free treatment. This behaviour indicates competition between the two cations for interlamellar positions. The adsorption of CCC in the presence of Cu also decreased in electrolyte media with the effect being highest in the presence of Ca electrolytes. The maximum CCC diminution was ~30%. However, the isotherms derived in CaCl2 and Ca(NO3)2 media at different Cu concentrations were close to each other, indicating that Ca from background electrolyte exerts greater competition than Cu for montmorillonite planar positions.

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