International Journal of Civil Engineering

, Volume 16, Issue 11, pp 1607–1619 | Cite as

Remediation of Zn(II)- and Cu(II)-Contaminated Soil Using Citric Acid and Citric Acid-Containing Wastewater

  • Fan Gu
  • Yu Zhang
  • Qiang TangEmail author
  • Cong Lu
  • Ting Zhou
Research paper


This study investigated the desorption behavior of heavy metals, Zn(II) and Cu(II), in the contaminated soil using citric acid and citric acid-containing wastewater (CACW). Four influence factors, including soil contamination levels, dosage of citric acid, reaction time and soil pH were taken into account. Using the citric acid, the desorption reaction with heavy metals was rapid (i.e., less than 2 h). The removal percentage of Zn(II) and Cu(II) reached more than 90% for one type of Suzhou clay with a pH value of 6.58 and a contaminated level of Zn > 2.7 mg/g and Cu > 3.3 mg/g. The increase of soil pH inhibited the metal desorption. The desorption behavior predicted by Visual MINTEQ was in good agreement with the experimental results. The desorption behavior of Zn(II) and Cu(II) was governed by the affinity of sorption sites for heavy metals and the chelating of organic ligands. Soil contamination levels and contact time were investigated when using CACW as the desorbent. It was concluded that CACW was also effective in extracting Zn(II) and Cu(II) from soil surface. When the contact time between CACW and contaminated soil reached 2 h, the removal percentage of Zn(II) and Cu(II) increased to 33% and 60%, respectively. As a result, CACW that is usually treated as a waste product can be a promising washing solution for soil remediation.


Zn(II) Cu(II) Desorption Citric acid Citric acid-containing wastewater 



The research presented herein is financially supported by the National Nature Science Foundation of China (51708377), Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province (BK20170339), China Postdoctoral Science Foundation funded project (2016M591756), Natural Science Fund for Colleges and Universities in Jiangsu Province (17KJB560008), Jiangsu Planned Projects for Postdoctoral Research Funds (1601175C), Jiangsu Provincial Department of Housing and Urban–Rural Development (2016ZD18, 2017ZD002), Jiangsu Provincial Transport Bureau (2016T05), and Six Talent Peaks Project in Jiangsu, China (2015-JNHB-018).


Not Applicable.


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Copyright information

© Iran University of Science and Technology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Center for Asphalt TechnologyAuburn UniversityAuburnUSA
  2. 2.School of Rail TransportationSoochow UniversitySuzhouChina

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