Selective removal of heavy metals from industrial wastewater using maghemite nanoparticle: Performance and mechanisms

Jing Hu, Guohua Chen, Irene M.C. Lo

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

331 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigated the applicability of maghemite (γ-Fe2O3) nanoparticles for the selective removal of toxic heavy metals from electroplating wastewater. The maghemite nanoparticles of 10nm were synthesized using a sol - gel method and characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The surface area of the nanoparticles was determined to be 198 m2/g using the Brunauer-Emmett-Teller method. Batch experiments were carried out to determine the adsorption kinetics and mechanisms of Cr(VI), Cu(II), and Ni(II) by maghemite nanoparticles. The adsorption process was found to be highly pH dependent, which made the nanoparticles selectively adsorb these three metals from wastewater. The adsorption of heavy metals reached equilibrium rapidly within 10min and the adsorption data were well fitted with the Langmuir isotherm. Regeneration studies indicated that the maghemite nanoparticles undergoing successive adsorption-desorption processes retained original metal removal capacity. Mechanism studies using TEM, XRD, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy suggested that the adsorption of Cr(VI) and Cu(II) could be due to electrostatic attraction and ion exchange, and the adsorption of Ni(II) could be as a result of electrostatic attraction only.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)709-715
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Environmental Engineering
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Adsorption
  • Desorption
  • Heavy metals
  • Industrial wastes
  • Industrial water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Environmental Science(all)


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