Submicron fibers as a morphological improvement of amorphous zirconium oxide particles and their utilization in antimonate (Sb(v)) removal

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Mesoporous and large surface area zirconium oxide aggregate granules with good adsorption properties were synthesized using a simple precipitation method. Since utilization of these small and fragile particles is considered rather difficult in larger scale column operation, the product was formed into a fibrous form to improve its usability. The submicron fibers were obtained from an optimized electroblowing synthesis that resulted in elastic and uniform fibers with a tetragonal structure and high length-to-diameter ratio. In antimonate (Sb(v)) adsorption experiments, the higher calcination temperature (350 degrees C) of the fibers did not seem to decrease the Sb(v) adsorption capacity excessively since the high theoretical adsorption capacities were 113 mg g(-1) and 58 mg g(-1) for the aggregate and fibers, respectively. Both materials had fast kinetics, fibers being faster in the beginning of the reaction. Moreover, both materials offered efficient Sb(v) removal in the studied pH range from 1 to 11 by reaching over 99.9% adsorption in the optimal pH range. X-ray absorption near edge spectroscopy (XANES) revealed that Sb(v) stays as pentavalent antimony after being adsorbed by these materials and based on the isoelectric point shifts in the zeta potential measurement, adsorption occurs mainly by an inner-sphere complexation reaction. Finally, our study showed that pressure buildup in a flow-through column packed with zirconium oxide fibers was significantly lower than in a column packed with aggregates. Thus, zirconium oxide aggregates can be formed into submicron fibers with enhanced column operation properties without a too large compromise in the adsorption properties.

Original languageEnglish
JournalRSC Advances
Issue number39
Pages (from-to)22355-22365
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 116 Chemical sciences
  • Nanomaterials
  • Nanofibers

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