Uptake of metal ions and organic compounds from aqueous solutions by sorbents

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil and Environmental Engineering


Chi Tien


Adsorption, Sanitation, , Metal ion uptake

Subject Categories

Civil and Environmental Engineering


Models and algorithms which may be applied for describing and predicting the uptake of dissolved species from aqueous solutions by sorbents of different types were developed in this investigation. The various studies carried out under this dissertation may be classified into two categories: (1) adsorption of metal ions by substances such as hydrous oxides and activated carbon and (2) sorption of organic solutes by natural particles including soils, sediments, and aquifer materials.

For the adsorption of metal ions, the uptake process is analyzed in terms of three separate but interacting phenomena: surface ionization, complex formation, and the presence of an electrostatic double layer adjacent to adsorbent surfaces. Models with different details and degrees of sophistication for the three phenomena are presented and their combinations may be used to describe the uptake process. A general algorithm for calculating the metal ion uptake rates under the conditions that the uptake rate is controlled by either mass transfer or adsorption reaction was formulated. Sample calculations demonstrating the use of the algorithm for interpreting experimental data obtained under a variety of conditions are presented.

For the second part of the study, a general model for the uptake of organic solutes by soils, sediments, and aquifer materials is proposed. The model is based on the hypothesis that organic solute uptake by natural sorbents is due principally to the partition of the organic solutes into the organic matter present in these natural sorbents, and the rate of the uptake is controlled by a combination of the various mass transfer steps associated with the diffusion-partition process. A general expression for the solute uptake expressed in the Laplace domain is obtained. This general expression together with the appropriate macroscopic conservation equation, the initial and boundary conditions, and the use of an available Laplace transform inversion technique can then be used for predicting the extent of solute uptake in both batch and column operations. Comparisons of model predictions and experimental data available in the literature are presented for model validation.


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