Issue 9, 2022

Thallium adsorption onto phyllosilicate minerals


The adsorption of thallium (Tl) onto phyllosilicate minerals plays a critical role in the retention of Tl in soils and sediments and the potential transfer of Tl into plants and groundwater. Especially micaceous minerals are thought to strongly bind monovalent Tl(I), in analogy to their strong binding of Cs. To advance the understanding of Tl(I) adsorption onto phyllosilicate minerals, we studied the adsorption of Tl(I) onto Na- and K-saturated illite and Na-saturated smectite, two muscovites, two vermiculites and a naturally Tl-enriched soil clay mineral fraction. Macroscopic adsorption isotherms were combined with the characterization of the adsorbed Tl by X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS). In combination, the results suggest that the adsorption of Tl(I) onto phyllosilicate minerals can be interpreted in terms of three major uptake paths: (i) highest-affinity inner-sphere adsorption of dehydrated Tl+ on a very low number of adsorption sites at the wedge of frayed particle edges of illite and around collapsed zones in vermiculite interlayers through complexation between two siloxane cavities, (ii) intermediate-affinity inner-sphere adsorption of partially dehydrated Tl+ on the planar surfaces of illite and muscovite through complexation onto siloxane cavities, (iii) low-affinity adsorption of hydrated Tl+, especially in the hydrated interlayers of smectite and expanded vermiculite. At the frayed edges of illite particles and in the vermiculite interlayer, Tl uptake can lead to the formation of new wedge sites that enable further adsorption of dehydrated Tl+. On the soil clay fraction, a shift in Tl(I) uptake from frayed edge sites (on illite) to planar sites (on illite and muscovite) was observed with increasing Tl(I) loading. The results from this study show that the adsorption of Tl(I) onto phyllosilicate minerals follows the same trends as reported for Cs and Rb and thus suggests that concepts to describe the retention of (radio)cesium by different types of phyllosilicate minerals in soils, sediments and rocks are also applicable to Tl(I).

Graphical abstract: Thallium adsorption onto phyllosilicate minerals

Supplementary files

Article information

Article type
25 Jan 2022
09 May 2022
First published
24 May 2022
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2022,24, 1343-1359

Thallium adsorption onto phyllosilicate minerals

A. Voegelin, S. Wick, N. Pfenninger, S. Mangold, B. Baeyens and M. M. Fernandes, Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2022, 24, 1343 DOI: 10.1039/D2EM00028H

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence. You can use material from this article in other publications without requesting further permissions from the RSC, provided that the correct acknowledgement is given.

Read more about how to correctly acknowledge RSC content.

Social activity