Soil contaminated by hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) poses a severe environmental threat owing to the carcinogenic and genotoxic characteristics of Cr(VI). Currently, field application of remediation technologies for Cr(VI) removal or detoxification fails to achieve optimum results owing to various limitations, such as high energy consumption, high chemical cost, secondary pollution, and long treatment duration. Herein, a novel strategy, namely, the capillary-evaporation membrane (CEM) method, which is based on the ubiquitous phenomena of capillarity and evaporation in natural soil environment without external forces, was applied to remove Cr(VI) from contaminated soil. The CEM method enables Cr(VI) dissolved in the soil solution to move upwards through soil pores and inter-particle spaces and get attached to the surface of adsorption membrane under the coupling action of capillarity and evaporation to achieve Cr(VI) removal. The CEM method showed high Cr(VI) removal capacity during 22 days of treatment of bulk soil (47.26%), sandy fraction (34.60%), and silt-clay fraction (52.50%), respectively. Further research on optimization of the CEM process conditions could remarkably improve Cr(VI) remediation performance. For example, the Cr(VI) removal rate increased to 89.04% in bulk soil through prolongation of the remediation period to 61 days. This study demonstrated a new environment-friendly remediation method driven by natural phenomena for Cr(VI)-contaminated soils.
Keywords: Capillarity; Cr(VI) capture; Evaporation; Soil.
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