Abstract: Palygorskite and sepiolite show a high sorption capacity for organic molecules. Adsorption of 2 organic cations, methylene blue (MB) and crystal violet (CV), by palygorskite and sepiolite were examined. The maximum sorption of MB and CV far exceeded the cation exchange capacity (CEC) of these minerals. This shows that, besides the contribution of free negative sorption sites (P−), the sites satisfied with sorption of single cations (PXi0) and neutral sorption sites (N) on clay surfaces may contribute to the sorption of organic cations. The number of neutral sites was determined by examining the sorption of 2 neutral organic molecules, triton-X 100 (TX100) and 15 crown ether 5 (15C5), and by application of the Langmuir isotherm.
To determine the contribution of different sites, an adsorption model that applies the Gouy-Chapman equation and takes into account the formation of different clay-organic complexes in a closed system was employed. Application of this model to sorption data provided the calculation of binding coefficients for neutral sites, as well as the surface potential of the minerals at different sorbate concentrations.
At sorption maxima, for both palygorskite and sepiolite, the contribution of neutral sites for sorption of organic cations was the highest, followed by the PXi0 sites in case of CV sorption, while in sorption of MB the contribution of P− sites was the second highest. The Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) patterns of clay-organic cation complexes compared with pure clays confirm that the sorption of organic cations is by silanol groups located at the edge of fibrous crystals, which account for neutral sorption sites.