Equilibrium studies were carried out for the adsorption of phosphate onto newly discharged coal gangue and spontaneous combustion coal gangue, which are industrial solid residues. The experimental data were fitted to the two-parameter equations of Freundlich, Langmuir, Temkin, and Dubinin-Radushkevich and the three-parameter equations of the Redlich-Peterson, Sips and Toth isotherms by non-linear method. All three-parameter isotherm equations have a higher correlation coefficient than the two-parameter isotherm equations. For new discharged coal gangue, the maximum phosphate adsorption capacity is over 2.504 mg/g (as P), and the best two-parameter isotherm is Freundlich, which indicated multilayer adsorption takes place on the surface. For spontaneous combustion coal gangue, the maximum phosphate adsorption capacity is 7.079 mg/g (as P), two times larger than new discharged coal gangue, and the best two-parameter isotherm is Langmuir, suggesting that the adsorption process occurs on a homogenous surface by monolayer adsorption. The three-parameter isotherm model of Redlich-Peterson shows the best fitting in both cases, but parameter g is 0.6138 in new discharged coal gangue (the parameter g is nearly 1, which means that the equilibrium isotherm behaves as the Langmuir, not as the Freundlich isotherm), g approaches to unity in spontaneous combustion coal gangue, suggesting that the two kinds of coal gangues have different adsorption properties.

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