Use of lignite as a low-cost material for cadmium and copper removal from aqueous solutions: Assessment of adsorption characteristics and exploration of involved mechanisms

Salah Jellali*, Ahmed Amine Azzaz, Mejdi Jeguirim, Helmi Hamdi, Ammar Mlayah

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Lignite, as an available and low-cost material, was tested for cadmium (Cd) and copper (Cu) removal from aqueous solutions under various static experimental conditions. Experimental results showed that the removal efficiency of both metals was improved by increasing their initial concentrations, adsorbent dosage and aqueous pH values. The adsorption kinetic was very rapid for Cd since about 78% of the totally adsorbed amounts were removed after a contact time of only 1 min. For Cd and Cu, the kinetic and isothermal data were well fitted with pseudo-second order and Freundlich models, respectively, which suggests that Cd/Cu removal by lignite occurs heterogeneously on multilayers surfaces. The maximum Langmuir’s adsorption capacities of Cd and Cu were assessed to 38.0 and 21.4 mg g−1 and are relatively important compared to some other lignites and raw natural materials. Results of proximate, scanning electron microscopy/energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM/EDS), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and X-Ray diffraction (XRD) showed that the removal of these metals occurs most likely through a combination of cation exchange and complexation with specific functional groups. The relatively high adsorption capacity of the used lignite promotes its future use as a low cost material for Cd and Cu removal from effluents, and possibly for other heavy metals or groups of pollutants.

Original languageEnglish
Article number164
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2 2021


  • Adsorption
  • Batch
  • Heavy metals
  • Isotherm
  • Lignite
  • Mechanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Biochemistry
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology

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