In recent years, the problem of water pollution caused by antibiotics has attracted wide attention. The common use of antibiotics represents a threat to both human health and environmental safety. The modification of kaolin clay is promising due to its high efficiency, easy operation, and low cost. In this study, a novel material, aluminum-pillared kaolin sodium alginate beads (CA-Al-KABs), was synthesized by gelling and solidification processes. The structure and chemical properties were characterized by various analytical methods. The influencing factors (such as adsorbent dosage, contacting time, pH, ion strength, temperature, and initial concentration) and adsorption mechanism of ciprofloxacin (CIP) were studied. Furthermore, adsorption kinetics, adsorption isotherms, and a Box–Behnken design (BBD) model were conducted. Moreover, CA-Al-KABs’ adsorption efficiency towards other antibiotics were also evaluated. The adsorption experiments showed that the acidic environment (pH = 4) was more favorable for the adsorption of ciprofloxacin. The adsorption kinetics of ciprofloxacin by CA-Al-KABs microspheres were confirmed to be more suitable with the pseudo-first-order kinetics model. The Langmuir isotherm model showed that the maximum adsorption capacity of CA-Al-KABs microspheres to ciprofloxacin was 68.36 mg/g at 308.15 K. The adsorption driving force of CIP near CA-Al-KABs may be the electrostatic attraction. Further, CIP could also form complexes with Ca2+
and Al—Al—OH on CA-Al-KABs, and thus CIP was attracted to the adsorbent. Adsorption thermodynamics showed that the adsorption process was exothermic, feasible, and spontaneous. In addition, the adsorption performance on other antibiotics indicated CA-Al-KABs’ broad application in the treatment of antibiotic wastewater.
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