Adsorption kinetics and isotherms of arsenite and arsenate on hematite nanoparticles and aggregates

J Environ Manage. 2017 Jan 15;186(Pt 2):261-267. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2016.07.068.


Iron (Fe) nanoparticles, e.g., zerovalent iron (ZVI) and iron oxide nanoparticles (IONP), have been used for remediation and environmental management of arsenic (As) contamination. These Fe nanoparticles, although originally nanosized, tend to form aggregates, in particular in the environment. The interactions of As with both nanoparticles and micron-sized aggregates should be considered when these Fe nanomaterials are used for mitigation of As issue. The objective of this study was to compare the adsorption kinetics and isotherm of arsenite (As(III)) and arsenate (As(V)) on bare hematite nanoparticles and aggregates and how this affects the fate of arsenic in the environment. The adsorption kinetic process was investigated with regards to the aggregation of the nanoparticles and the type of sorbed species. Kinetic data were best described by a pseudo second-order model. Both As species had similar rate constants, ranging from 3.82 to 6.45 × 10-4 g/(μg·h), as rapid adsorption occurred within the first 8 h regardless of particle size. However, hematite nanoparticles and aggregates showed a higher affinity to adsorb larger amounts of As(V) (4122 ± 62.79 μg/g) than As(III) (2899 ± 71.09 μg/g) at equilibrium. We were able to show that aggregation and sedimentation of hematite nanoparticles occurs during the adsorption process and this might cause the immobilization and reduced bioavailability of arsenic. Isotherm studies were described by the Freundlich model and it confirmed that hematite nanoparticles have a significantly higher adsorption capacity for both As(V) and As(III) than hematite aggregates. This information is useful and can assist in predicting arsenic adsorption behavior and assessing the role of iron oxide nanoparticles in the biogeochemical cycling of arsenic.

Keywords: Adsorption; Arsenate; Arsenite; Hematite aggregates; Iron oxide nanoparticles.

MeSH terms

  • Adsorption
  • Arsenates / chemistry*
  • Arsenic / analysis
  • Arsenic / chemistry
  • Arsenites / chemistry*
  • Ferric Compounds / chemistry*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Iron / chemistry
  • Kinetics
  • Metal Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Particle Size
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / chemistry


  • Arsenates
  • Arsenites
  • Ferric Compounds
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • ferric oxide
  • Iron
  • arsenite
  • Arsenic