Treatment of flax shive with sulfuric acid produces a carbonaceous material that has been used to remove metal ions from aqueous solution. Metal ions including Cd(II), Cu(II), Cr(III), Co(II), Ni(II), Zn(II) and Pb(II) have been investigated for kinetic behaviour and sorption capacities. These metal ions show fast sorption kinetics following a first order rate equation. Cadmium was chosen as representative of these metal ions and a detailed study was carried out. The effect of pH on sorption was studied and it was found that maximum uptake occurred above pH 3-7, sorption was accompanied by release of protons into the solution and a ratio of [H+] released to [Cd2+] sorbed of approximately 2 was found. The sorption capacity showed no significant increase with increase of temperature. The presence of other metal ions such as K+, Na+, Mg2+ and Ca2+ decreases the Cd(II) capacity, indicating competition for the ion exchange sites. Successive sorption of Cd(II) shows that the capacity exceeds the monolayer capacity calculated from the Langmuir equation. Column studies showed good performance over a total of seven cycles of loading/stripping. These studies indicate that the sorption mechanism for these metal ions is related to a reversible ion exchange process on the carbon surface.
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