ABSTRACT

The use of natural clays for the removal of dyes from wastewater, an important part of environmental remediation, is desirable due, not least, to their low cost. Palygorskite (PAL), a rigid-structure clay, is a good candidate for use in the elimination of industrial effluents, based on its exceptional adsorptive properties. Recently, a new palygorskite deposit has been discovered in Cuba and its use in the adsorption of dyes has not yet been explored in detail. In the present study, the use of unmodified natural Cuban palygorskite as a host for dyes was evaluated. Congo red (CR) and methylene blue (MB) were the anionic and cationic dyes tested, respectively, because of their wide use and toxicity to the environment. Several physical-chemical parameters were studied in order to establish the best experimental conditions under which to achieve the greatest dye load per gram of clay. Natural mixtures with different percentages of montmorillonite were also tested to evaluate their effect on the adsorption of the dyes. The results indicated that at pH values of ~7–9 and an initial dye concentration of 0.1 mg mL–1, the process was efficient. X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis proved the surface adsorption of both dyes on the clays. The main interactions involved in the clay-dye system were electrostatic forces and H-bonds. Adsorption of CR seemed to be controlled fundamentally by the palygorskite phase. Such results support the use of this natural clay as an efficient host for the removal of MB and CR from wastewater.

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