Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 31, pp 30962–30978 | Cite as

Adsorption of cadmium, nickel and lead ions: equilibrium, kinetic and selectivity studies on modified clinoptilolites from the USA and RSA

  • Joshua GorimboEmail author
  • Blessing Taenzana
  • Adolph A Muleja
  • Alex T Kuvarega
  • Linda L Jewell
Research Article


The performance of modified clinoptilolites (zeolites) from two different sources (South Africa and the USA) for the adsorption of Ni2+, Cd2+ and Pb2+ from synthetic industrial effluent contaminated with metal concentration levels at 50, 150 and 500 ppm was evaluated. The selectivity of the clinoptilolite for the adsorption of Ni2+, Cd2+ and Pb2+ was investigated with mixed feed solutions containing all three ions in equal concentrations and single-component concentrations containing only one of the ions. The homoionic forms of the clinoptilolite were made of Na+, K+ and Ca2+. Batch experiments were then conducted to measure the uptake of metals by the zeolites. The zeolites were characterised using SEM, XRD and BET. The South African clinoptilolite showed a higher surface area and pore volume (17.52m2/g and 0.047cm3/g respectively) than the USA zeolite (12.26m2/g and 0.028cm3/g respectively) for the Na+ homoionic form. According to the equilibrium studies, the selectivity sequence was found to be Pb2+ > Cd2+ > Ni2+, with good fits being obtained using Langmuir and Freundlich adsorption isotherms for low metal concentrations. Examples of equilibrium adsorption capacities for RSA and USA clinoptilolite modified with Na+ for Pb were 26.94 mg/g and 27.06 mg/g when RSA-Na+ and USA-Na+ were used respectively. The adsorption was found to depend on the homoionic form of the zeolite and to a lesser extent the source of the zeolite. The selectivity of a particular zeolite for a particular heavy metal can be altered by the homoionic form of the zeolite. Overall, the adsorption capacity of the USA clinoptilolite was higher than the adsorption capacity of the SA clinoptilolite, revealing the potential of clinoptilolite in metal-polluted industrial effluent treatment.


Modified clinoptilolites Adsorption Equilibrium Kinetic Selectivity Heavy metals 



This project received financial support from the University of South Africa, University of the Witwatersrand and NRF South Africa.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for the Development of Energy for African Sustainability (IDEAS)University of South Africa (UNISA)JohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Chemical and Metallurgical EngineeringUniversity of the WitwatersrandWitsSouth Africa
  3. 3.Nanotechnology and Water Sustainability Research Unit, College of Science, Engineering and TechnologyUniversity of South Africa (UNISA)JohannesburgSouth Africa
  4. 4.Department of Civil and Chemical EngineeringUniversity of South Africa (UNISA)JohannesburgSouth Africa

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