Adsorption characteristics of potentially toxic metals in single- and multi-metal forms onto ferronickel slag were evaluated. Competitive sorption of metals by ferronickel slag has never been reported previously. The maximum adsorption capacities of toxic metals on ferronickel were in the order of Cd (10.2 mg g−1) > Cu (8.4 mg g−1) > Zn (4.4 mg g−1) in the single-metal adsorption isotherm and Cu (6.1 mg g−1) >> Cd (2.3 mg g−1) > Zn (0.3 mg g−1) in the multi-metal adsorption isotherm. In comparison with single-metal adsorption isotherm, the reduction rates of maximum toxic metal adsorption capacity in the multi-metal adsorption isotherm were in the following order of Zn (93%) > Cd (78%) >> Cu (27%). The Freundlich isotherm provides a slightly better fit than the Langmuir isotherm equation using ferronickel slag for potentially toxic metal adsorption. Multi-metal adsorption behaviors differed from single-metal adsorption due to competition, based on data obtained from Freundlich and Langmuir adsorption models and three-dimensional simulation. Especially, Cd and Zn were easily exchanged and substituted by Cu during multi-metal adsorption. Further competitive adsorption studies are necessary in order to accurately estimate adsorption capacity of ferronickel slag for potentially toxic metals in natural environments.

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