Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong; State Key Laboratory of Geomechanics and Geotechnical Engineering, Institute of Rock and Soil Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan 430071, China; IRSM-CAS/HK PolyU Joint Laboratory on Solid Waste Science, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Electronic address: [Email]
The management of large quantities of incinerated sewage sludge ash (ISSA) is problematic. Environmental and economic benefits can be achieved by using ISSA as an adsorbent for heavy metals removal due to its exceptionally porous structure and active components. In this study, the feasibility of using ISSA to treat heavy metals (Cd(II), Cu(II) and Zn(II)) contaminated waters from both single- and binary-metal systems were investigated. The results showed that the pH of the solution played a pivotal role in the adsorption of heavy metals by ISSA and the optimal pH for the adsorption of these metals was around 6.00. The adsorption process of Cu(II), Cd(II), and Zn(II) in a single-metal system was similar and fast. The equilibrium data followed the Freundlich isotherm model and the corresponding adsorption capacity was 0.13, 0.11 and 0.06 mmol/g, respectively. However, the presence of other competitive metal ions had adverse effects on both the adsorption rate and the adsorption capacity for the target metal ions. The affinity of ISSA towards the metals followed the order of Cu(II) > Cd(II) > Zn(II). The difference in pH value and Ca or Na concentration of the solution after adsorption revealed that cation exchange played a fundamental role in the adsorption of the target metals, while electrostatic attraction and precipitation were insignificant. Over all, the application of ISSA as an adsorbent would be a promising option to both relieve the waste disposal pressure and mitigate the complex heavy metals pollution.