Defluorination of drinking water using surfactant modified zeolites

  • E. A. Donkor Department of Food Science and Technology, KNUST, Kumasi
  • R. Buamah Department of Civil Engineering, KNUST, Kumasi
  • B. Kwakye Awuah Department of Physics, KNUST, Kumasi
Keywords: characterization, defluoridation, groundwater, surfactant, zeolites


The prevalence of high concentrations of fluoride (i.e. > 1.5 mg/l) in groundwater in the Northernpart of Ghana especially around the Bongo communities has been an issue of concern.Owingto the arid nature of these localities, the inhabitants (who are mainly peasant farmers), relymore on groundwater sources for their drinking water. With the strenuous nature of their joband the warm weather conditions, the farmers generally consume more water, thus becomingmore vulnerable to dental and skeletal fluorosis. This study focused on the removal of fluoridefrom groundwater by employing surfactant modified zeolites (SMZ) synthesized using locallyavailable kaolin material as precursor. The zeolite synthesis involved calcination of kaolin, alkaline fusion and hydrothermal treatment. The final product was modified with 5g/L Hexadecyltrimethylammonium bromide (HDTMABr). The zeolite was characterised by Xray Diffraction(XRD), Energy Dispersive Xray (EDX) and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and the modified form employed in batch fluoride removal studies. The fluoride adsorption kinetics was studiedusing model water with varying initial fluoride concentration. From the EDX analysis, the synthesized zeolite NaLSX was found to comprise predominantly Oxygen (60%), Silicon (15%), and Aluminium (13%). The SEM showed the zeolite NaLSX crystals to be octahedrally shaped. The unmodified zeolite NaLSX was incapable of adsorbing fluoride ions but the surfactant modified zeolite adsorbed fluoride. The fluoride adsorption capacity of the modified zeolite was pH dependent and peaked at pH 6.0 – 7.0.


Keywords: characterization, defluoridation, groundwater, surfactant, zeolites


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eISSN: 0855-0395