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Aluminosilicate Inorganic Polymers (Geopolymers): Emerging Ion Exchangers for Removal of Metal Ions

  • Bassam I. El-EswedEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Geopolymers (GPs), also known as alkali-activated aluminosilicates or inorganic polymers, are synthesized from an aluminosilicate source (fly ash, metakaolin, or blast furnace slag) and very alkaline sodium hydroxide and/or silicate. Due to their high compressive strength, acid and fire resistance, GPs are used as construction and coating materials. However, since the structure of GP contains negatively charged Al(III) tetrahedra (balanced by alkali cations), they are feasible ion exchangers. The present chapter is aimed to encapsulate the developments in the field of using GPs for the removal of alkali metals (Li+, K+, Cs+), alkaline earth metals (Mg2+, Ca2+, Sr2+, and Ba2+), ammonium ion, and heavy metals (Pb2+, Cu2+, Cd2+, Zn2+, Ni2+, Cr3+) from water. GPs are the first cementing materials that have remarkable ion exchange capacity. GPs have higher ion exchange/adsorption capacity, but a lower rate of adsorption than their precursors (fly ash, metakaolin,…). Thus, geopolymerization increases the adsorption sites on one hand but imposes kinetics limitations that render GPs slow adsorption. GPs resemble zeolites in respect of cation exchange capacity, high surface area, and thermal stability. However, the synthesis of GPs is easier and inexpensive with lower energy and water demand than zeolite synthesis. The prepared GP could be directly formulated as high compressive strength granules at a low temperature. Since GPs are more acid resistant, they are accessible for regeneration than zeolites, but this issue requires further work.

Keywords

Aluminosilicate inorganic polymers Geopolymers Inorganic cation exchangers Cesium Ammonium Strontium Heavy metals Adsorption 

Abbreviations

BET

Brunauer–Emmett–Teller (BET) theory

BFS

Blast furnace slag from iron manufacturing

CEC

Cation exchange capacity (meq/mol)

EDS

Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy

FA

Fly ash from electricity plant employing coal (low calcium, type F)

GP

Geopolymer

k2

Pseudo-second-order rate constant (g mg−1 min−1)

KL

Langmuir affinity constant (L mg−1)

MK

Metakaolin

Qm

Adsorption capacity (mg g−1)

SEM

Scanning electron micrographs

XRD

X-ray diffraction

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Zarqa CollegeAl-Balqa Applied UniversityZarqaJordan

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