A systematic study was conducted to assess the mechanisms involved in the co-removal of hexavalent chromium during chemical precipitation of divalent copper. Batch tests were used to assess the precipitation phenomena in both pure copper solutions and also mixed copper-Cr(VI) solutions with progressive addition of sodium carbonate to increase pH and induce precipitation. It was found that the coremoval of Cr(VI) was caused by two distinct mechanisms: coprecipitation of copper with Cr(VI) at pH 5.0 to 5.2, leading to the formation of CuCrO4 precipitates. Once the fine crystallites of CuCrO4 were formed, the test solution became heterogeneous and this accelerated the production of copper-carbonate precipitates, mainly in the form of CuCO3·Cu(OH)2, at pH 5.2 to 6.2. The latter precipitates were negatively charged at pH below 7.5, and thus they were able to adsorb a considerable amount of the remaining chromate ions [HCrO4- and CrO42-]. The extent of adsorption depended on both pH and surface loading. Besides electrostatic attraction, ligand exchange was also found to play some role. Maximum adsorption occurred at pH 6.5. When pH was raised to 10.0, approximately 25-30% of the adsorbed chromium could become desorbed due to a surface charge reversal on the adsorbent.

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