Date of Award

5-2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Environmental and Soil Sciences

Major Professor

Michael E. Essington

Committee Members

Jaehoon Lee, Phillip Jardine

Abstract

Antimony (Sb) is a toxin that can be found in high concentrations in the soil due to anthropogenic sources. Antimony exists in soil as Sb(V) in the monovalent antimonate hydroxyanion. The adsorption mechanisms of Sb(V) are not well-characterized. The objective of this study was to further elucidate Sb(V) adsorption mechanisms by examining the impact of adsorption on surface charging characteristics of gibbsite, goethite, birnessite, and kaolinite. Also examined was Sb(V), SO4 [sulfate], and PO4 [phosphate] adsorption by birnessite. Electrophoretic mobility and potentiometric titrations were employed to examine the ζ-potential [zeta-potential] and net proton surface charge density as a function of pH and ionic strength, and in the presence or absence of adsorbed Sb(V), phosphate, or sulfate. Competitive batch adsorption studies were performed to examine Sb(V), SO4, and PO4 adsorption as a function of pH, ionic strength, and competitive environment. Results suggest that Sb(V) participates in inner-sphere adsorption by gibbsite, goethite, and kaolinite in acidic conditions, PO4 participates in inner-sphere adsorption by gibbsite, goethite and kaolinite in the pH range studied, and that SO4 participates in inner- and outer-sphere adsorption by gibbsite, goethite, and kaolinite with the former mechanisms becoming more important in acidic conditions. Adsorption of Sb(V) and PO4 by birnessite had little impact on the surface charge characteristics indicating outer-sphere adsorption. Batch adsorption edge studies showed Sb(V) and PO4 retention to be dependent on pH and ionic strength, supporting electrostatic adsorption mechanisms. Batch adsorption studies showed SO4 was not adsorbed by birnessite in the pH 3 to 11 range. The adsorption data was modeled using FITEQL 4.0 and the diffuse layer model (DLM). The DLM adequately described Sb(V) and PO4 adsorption by birnessite using electrostatic surface complexes.

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