Li sorption was studied on natural bentonite, kaolin and zeolite in batch experiments at variable Li and Na concentrations (0, 1.5, 15, 150, 750 mM LiCl and 0.01, 0.1, 1, 3, 5 M NaCl). The solid-to-solution ratio was 1:4 and pH ranged from 2 to 10. Maximum Li sorption was determined at 0.01 M NaCl and 750 mM LiCl concentration in solution. It was 3800 ± 380 ppm, 1300 ± 130 ppm and 3900 ± 390 ppm on bentonite, kaolin and zeolite, respectively, which is in the average to upper range typical for clay minerals. Under these conditions, kaolin was saturated with Li, whereas Li in bentonite and zeolite occupied only about 55%–79% and 9%–26% of the typical cation exchange capacity (CEC) of smectites and zeolites, respectively. This is explained by differences in the way Li is bound in the materials studied. Li sorption on bentonite was independent of pH due to strong pH buffering. Above pH 5, kaolin was transformed to gibbsite, which completely changed its Li sorption capabilities. Extremely low as well as extremely high pH destabilized the crystal lattice of zeolite. All in all it was shown that, under the studied conditions, Li sorption on the studied materials occurs in detectable quantities. So, clay minerals and zeolites can act as a sink for Li if Li concentrations in solution are sufficiently high.
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