We developed a new calcination method to convert coal gangue (CG), a common waste generated from coal production process, into a modified form, which could be used as an adsorbent to remove Mn2+ from aqueous solution. Sodium tetraborate (Na2B4O7·10H2O) was added into the CG calcination process as an additive, and the concentrations of Na2B4O7·10H2O were optimized along with the calcination temperature to obtain the best adsorbent capacity of modified coal gangue (MCG). We applied multiple analytical methods such as scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and Brunauer–Emmett–Teller analysis to characterize the MCG. The results showed it had a smaller particle size and a larger specific surface area and pore volume after modification. It also indicated that the phase of CG transformed from kaolinite to metakaolinite after calcination. Moreover, a new substance was generated with two new peaks at 1,632 cm−1 and 799 cm−1. The Mn2+ absorption capacity of MCG was evaluated using a series of experiments with different adsorbent doses, pH values and initial Mn2+ concentrations during the adsorption process. We found that Mn2+ adsorbent capacity of MCG increased by more than seven-fold compared to that of CG. The Langmuir isotherm model and the pseudo-second-order kinetic model provided the best fit to the adsorption processes.

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