Organic waste materials and semi-products containing cellulose are used as low-cost adsorbents that are able to compete with conventional sorbents. In addition, their capacity to bind heavy metal ions can be intensified by chemical treatments using mineral and organic acids, bases, oxidizing agents, and organic compounds. In this paper, we studied the biosorption capacity of natural and modified wooden sawdust of poplar, cherry, spruce, and hornbeam in order to remove heavy metals from acidic model solutions. The Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) spectra showed changes of the functional groups due to the alkaline modification of sawdust, which manifested in the considerably increased intensity of the hydroxyl peaks. The adsorption isotherm models clearly indicated that the adsorptive behavior of metal ions in treated sawdust satisfied not only the Langmuir model, but also the Freundlich model. The adsorption data obtained for studied sorbents were better fitted by the Langmuir isotherm model for both metals, except for spruce sawdust. Surface complexation and ion exchange are the major mechanisms involved in metal ion removal. We investigated the efficiency of the alkaline modified sawdust for metal removal under various initial concentrations of Cu(II) and Zn(II) from model solutions. The highest adsorption efficiency values (copper 94.3% at pH 6.8 and zinc 98.2% at pH 7.3) were obtained for poplar modified by KOH. For all types of sawdust, we found that the sorption efficiency of modified sorbents was higher in comparison to untreated sawdust. The value of the pH initially increased more in the case of modified sawdust (8.2 for zinc removal with spruce NaOH) and then slowly decreased (7.0 for Zn(II) with spruce NaOH).
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