Efficient elimination of U(VI) by polyethyleneimine-decorated fly ash
The toxicity and radioactivity of uranium [235,238U(VI)] has resulted in serious environmental issues in recent years. Polyethyleneimine-decorated waste fly ash (FA@PEI) from thermal power plants has been fabricated via a novel and cost-efficient method and applied to the U(VI) elimination from aqueous solutions by batch experiments. The U(VI) removal was found to be dramatically influenced by pH whilst being ionic strength-independent, which indicated that the interaction was primarily controlled by inner-sphere surface complexation. Kinetic studies showed that the FA@PEI had an ultrafast removal rate (1.5 h to achieve adsorption equilibration) for U(VI) and a pseudo-second-order model fitted the adsorption process. The maximum removal capacity of U(VI) by FA@PEI was 70.3 mg g−1 at 298 K and pH 5.0. Based on the thermodynamics data (ΔH° > 0, ΔS° > 0 and ΔG° < 0), the U(VI) removal process is typically spontaneous and endothermic. According to the XPS analysis, the enhanced U(VI) adsorption was mainly attributed to the abundant metal–oxide bonds and amine groups (–NH2, –NH–). Furthermore, the FA@PEI material also demonstrated an outstanding regeneration ability. This paper highlights FA@PEI as an environmentally-friendly and economical alternative for U(VI) elimination from waste water.