The main objective of the present study is the investigation of the adsorption efficiency of raw and heat-treated attapulgite clay for removing Pb and Cu from aqueous solutions. The removal of each metal was studied separately with the use of one-substance solutions. The effect of certain factors, including solution pH and ionic strength, contact time, adsorbent concentration, temperature of treatment of the adsorbent, and initial metal concentration, was studied. In alkaline conditions, pH > 8.0, precipitation of Pb(OH)2
takes place, whereas at pH range 4.0–8.0 removal of metals is probably due to adsorption processes. Metal removal increases by 20% for Pb and by 80% for Cu with the increase of attapulgite content from 2 g·L−1
to 15 g·L−1
. The removal of metals decreases with increasing solution ionic strength due to competition of Na with Pb and Cu for the available sites. Significant changes in the adsorption capacity of the used attapulgite clay occur after calcination in temperatures >550 °C due to destruction of the crystal lattice of the material and nano-porosity change. Finally, Pb adsorption is described well by both Langmuir and Freundlich isotherm models. According to the Langmuir model, the maximum adsorption capacity for Pb is 30 mg·g−1
and 4.41 mg·g−1
for Cu. The Freundlich model fitted better the experimental data of Cu.
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