Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are increasingly widespread pollutants introduced into the environment via oil spillage and incomplete anthropogenic combustion of fossil fuels. In this work, the capacity of stevensite and sepiolite to adsorb phenanthrene (PHE) has been evaluated experimentally by batch testing. Both clay minerals are distributed widely in the Madrid Basin, are of low cost and can be applied with minimal environmental impact. In the context of few previous studies, adsorption isotherms have been developed to understand the adsorption mechanisms and were fitted to the Freundlich and linear models with virtually the same results. Although stevensite showed greater adsorption capacity than sepiolite, the isotherms were constructed for equilibrium concentrations up to 0.8–1.0 mg/L due to the low solubility of PHE in water. When compared to other adsorbents the ability of stevensite to retain PAHs should be examined further in order to add and complement novel functions in reactive barriers.

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