In this paper, we present a study on the adsorption of calcium (Ca2+
) onto polyacrylic acid-functionalized iron-oxide magnetic nanoparticles (PAA-MNPs) to gain an insight into the adsorption behavior of alkaline earth elements at conditions typical of produced water from hydraulic fracturing. An aqueous co-precipitation method was employed to fabricate iron oxide magnetic nanoparticles, whose surface was first coated with amine and then by PAA. To evaluate the Ca2+
adsorption capacity by PAA-MNPs, the Ca2+
adsorption isotherm was measured in batch as a function of pH and sodium chlorite (electrolyte) concentration. A surface complexation model accounting for the coulombic forces in the diffuse double layer was developed to describe the competitive adsorption of protons (H+
) and Ca2+
onto the anionic carboxyl ligands of the PAA-MNPs. Measurements show that Ca2+
adsorption is significant above pH 5 and decreases with the electrolyte concentration. Upon adsorption, the nanoparticle suspension destabilizes and creates large clusters, which favor an efficient magnetic separation of the PAA-MNPs, therefore, helping their recovery and recycle. The model agrees well with the experiments and predicts that the maximum adsorption capacity can be achieved within the pH range of the produced water, although that maximum declines with the electrolyte concentration.
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