Four different types of natural clay were tested as potential adsorbents for toxic Pb2+ ions. Based on the preliminary screening studies, the adsorbents were effective at retaining Pb2+ ions from solution. A strong correlation was observed between the cation exchange capacity of clay samples and their function as adsorbents of Pb2+ ions. An adsorption isotherm of Pb ions on Petra clay was measured at 30°C and at a concentration range of 0–200 mg dm−3. Over the entire concentration range, the Langmuir isotherm gave a good representation of adsorption data, which confirms the formation of one molecular layer of adsorbate on the clay surface. Two variables were investigated to elucidate the rate-limiting steps of adsorption: the effect of initial concentration of Pb2+ and the effect of solution temperature. It is concluded that external diffusion was the only mechanism in operation in the adsorption process. It has been noted that adsorption of Pb2+ by natural clay is a fast process, where 80% of equilibrium capacity was established within the first minutes of interaction.

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