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Surface-Functionalized Porous Lignin for Fast and Efficient Lead Removal from Aqueous Solution

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journal contribution
posted on 15.07.2015, 00:00 by Zhili Li, Duo Xiao, Yuanyuan Ge, Stephan Koehler
The development of ecofriendly sorbents for fast and efficient removal of heavy metals from aqueous media still remains a significant challenge. Here, we report that this task can be addressed by creating a porous naturally occurring polymer, as illustrated by functionalizing lignin with large numbers of mesopores and functional groups. We show that surface-functionalized porous lignin (SFPL), obtained by a two-step process, has a large surface area of 22.3 m2/g, 12 times that of lignin, and a high density of dithiocarbamate groups (2.8 mmol/g). SFPL was found to exhibit an excellent adsorption performance toward lead ions dissolved in water. For example, 99% of the lead ions from 50 mL of a solution containing 20 mg/L lead ions was removed in just 30 min by 0.01 g of SFPL. The saturated adsorption capacity of SFPL for lead ions was found to be 188 mg/g, which is 13 times that of the original lignin and 7 times that of activated carbon. The adsorption process is endothermic and involves intraparticle diffusion and chemical adsorption between lead ions and the functional groups of SFPL. The cost effectiveness and environmental friendliness of SFPL make it a promising material for removing lead and other heavy metals from wastewater.