Initially, porous acrylonitrile/itaconic acid copolymers (AN/IA) were prepared by suspended emulsion polymerization. Successively, the cyano groups in AN/IA copolymers were converted to amidoxime (AO) groups by the reaction with hydroxylamine hydrochloride. The structures of the AN/IA and amidoximated AN/IA (AO AN/IA) were characterized by infrared spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and porous structural analysis. The adsorption properties of AO AN/IA for Hg(II) were investigated. The results show that AO AN/IA has mesopores and macropores, and surface area of 11.71 m2 g−1. It was found that AO AN/IA has higher affinity for Hg(II), with the maximum adsorption capacity of 84.25 mg g-1. The AO AN/IA also can effectively remove Hg(II) from different binary metal ion mixture systems. Furthermore, the adsorption kinetics and thermodynamics were studied in detail. The adsorption equilibrium can quickly be achieved in 4 h determined by an adsorption kinetics study. The adsorption process is found to belong to the second-order model, and can be described by the Freundlich model.

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