Functionalisation of cross-linked polyethylenimine for the removal of As from mining wastewater

  • DM Saad
  • EM Cukrowska
  • H Tutu
Keywords: Adsorption, arsenic, phosphonated cross-linked polyethylenimine, functionalisation


Cross-linked polyethylenimine (CPEI) was phosphonated by reaction with phosphorous acid and formaldehyde. The functionalised polymer was used as an adsorbent for the removal of arsenic as an oxo-anion. The binding affinity of the synthesised polymer to abstract As from synthetic solutions and wastewater samples was assessed, as well as its ability to be regenerated for re-use. The PCPEI demonstrated an elevated loading capacity, removing up to 88% of As. The kinetic rates were modelled using pseudo first-order and pseudo second-order equations. The pseudo second-order equation was found to explain the adsorption kinetics most effectively, implying chemisorption. The Langmuir and Freundlich isotherms were used to interpret the adsorption of As onto PCPEI. The Freundlich isotherm was found to best fit and describe the experimental data. The thermodynamic study of the adsorption process indicated high activation energies (55.91 kJ mol-1) which confirms chemisorption as a mechanism of interaction between As and PCPEI.

Keywords: Adsorption; arsenic; phosphonated cross-linked polyethylenimine, functionalisation


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eISSN: 0378-4738