A widely distributed mineral, serpentine, obtained from Wadi Ghadir (Eastern Desert in Egypt) was studied as a potential naturally and abundantly available source for the synthesis of an efficient adsorbent for aquatic remediation applications. A novel nanocomposite was synthesized after the exfoliation of the layered structure of serpentine by hydrogen peroxide treatment (serpentine (SP)), followed by decoration with magnetic Fe3
nanoparticles (MNP). The goal behind the utilization of the latter phase was to increase the environmental remediation capability and to incorporate magnetic properties at the final adsorbent, toward a better separation after the use. The fabricated composite (MNP/SP) was characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The composite’s potential adsorption application toward the removal of two cationic dyes, methylene blue (MB) and malachite green (MG), was investigated. The observed adsorption kinetics was fast, and the highest uptake was observed at pH = 8, with the capacities to reach 162 and 176 mg g−1
for MB and MG, respectively, values significantly higher than various other materials tested against these two cationic dyes. Compared to hydrogen peroxide-treated serpentine, the removal efficiency of the composite was higher by 157 and 127% for MB and MG, respectively. The MB and MG were adsorbed because of the favorable electrostatic interactions between MNP/SP active sites and the cationic dyes. The close value capacities suggest that the difference in chemistry of the two dyes does not affect the interactions, with the later occurring via the dyes’ amine functionalities. With increasing ionic strength, the adsorption of the studied basic dyes was slightly decreased, suggesting only partial antagonistic ion effect. The sorbent can be easily regenerated and reused without significant deterioration of its adsorption efficiency, which makes MNP/SP a promising adsorbent for the removal of hazardous pollutants from aquatic environments.
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