Facile and low-cost synthesis of pure hematite (α-Fe2O3) nanoparticles from naturally occurring laterites and their superior adsorption capability towards acid-dyes
Hematite nanoparticles have a broad range of outstanding applications such as in wastewater treatment, electrolytic studies, and photoelectrochemical and superparamagnetic applications. Therefore, the development of facile and novel methods to synthesize hematite nanoparticles using low-cost raw materials is an important and timely requirement. In this study, we have developed a facile economical route to synthesize hematite nanoparticles, directly from the naturally occurring material laterite. Laterite is a rock that is rich in Fe and Al with extensive distribution in large mineable quantities in many countries around the world, though not yet utilized for major industrial applications. In this method, ferric ions in the laterite were leached out using acid and the solution obtained was hydrolyzed with slow-release hydroxyl ions which were acquired by aqueous decomposition of urea. The resulted precursor was calcined to obtain hematite nanoparticles. Characterization data shows that the final product is comprised of spherical hematite nanoparticles with a narrow particle size vs. frequency distribution with an average particle diameter of 35 nm. The synthesized product has a purity of over 98%. Furthermore, the synthesized nanoparticles show an excellent adsorption percentage as high as 70%, even when the initial dye concentration in water is 5000 ppm and the amount of material is minimal, towards acid dyes which are excessively used in textile based industries. Such acid dyes are a threat to the environment when they are released into water bodies by industries in massive quantities. Therefore synthesized hematite nanoparticles are ideal to treat dye wastewater in industrial effluents because such nanoparticles are low cost and economical, and the synthesis procedure is rather facile and effective.