UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Adsorption of heavy metals at low concentrations using granular coals Tin Tun, U.


The adsorption of low concentrations of heavy metals, such as zinc, copper, lead and mercury, by various British Columbia coals was investigated. Five British Columbia coals were used as adsorbents for the four heavy metals described above. Batch tests were run on all five coals, namely, Hat Creek Oxidised, Hat Creek Unoxidised, Cominco Oxidised, Cominco Ash Waste and Cominco Production Coal. The optimum contact time for batch tests was found to be 60 mins. Batch tests provided a quick comparison of the adsorptive capacities of the five coals. Based on the batch tests data, the best performing coal from each of the Hat Creek and Cominco groups, namely, Hat Creek Oxidised and Cominco Ash Waste were chosen for further investigatory work using column tests. For the column tests, the influent concentrations were 2 mg/ℓ and less for zinc, copper and lead. Column work with mercury was carried out with influent concentrations of 5 μg/ℓ and less. Column tests showed the following:- a) Varying the cross-sectional area of the coal column from .001 ft² to .002 ft² has no significant influence on the adsorptive capacity. Both columns have diameters more than 10 times that of the average coal particle. b) The most crucial factor affecting adsorptive capacity is the pH of the influent. There is a definite decrease in capacity with decreasing pH. c) The capacity decreases with increasing flow rate, but the relationship is not linear. The decrease in capacity due to a flow rate increase from 1 to 3 Igpm/ft² is much greater than the decrease in capacity due to an increase from 3 to 5 Igpm/ft². d) Comparing the adsorptive affinities of zinc, copper and lead, it is seen that lead displayed the greatest affinity with copper second and zinc third. At 10% breakthrough concentration, the capacities displayed by Cominco Ash Waste coal for lead, copper and zinc were in the ratio of 12:6:1. The influent pH and initial concentrations involved were 4.0 and 2 mg/ℓ respectively, and the flow rate was 1 Igpm/ft². e) Using influents containing a mixture of zinc, copper and lead results in smaller individual capacities for Zn, Cu and Pb than would be achieved with single solute influents. But the total overall capacity of the coal for heavy metals is greater with mixed influents than with any single solute influent. f) Tests with mercury influents show that deterioration of the concentration of the mercury solution occurs at concentration of 5 μg/ℓ and less. g) Of the two coals chosen for column test work, Hat Creek Oxidised is the superior coal with regard to the adsorptive capacity of heavy metals. Tests run at an influent pH of 4.0 and influent concentrations of 2 mg/£ of each metal, showed the ratio of capacities of Hat Creek Oxidised: Darco activated carbon: Cominco Ash Waste for Zn to be 12.1 : 1.2 : 1.0, for Cu to be 11.9 : 1.7 : 1.0 and for Pb to be 3.8 : 0.7 : 1.0. An attempt was made to correlate the column effluent pH with the effluent metal concentration. It was found that this correlation is more pronounced at lower influent pH values. During the course of the column work, a growth of fungus was observed at the top of the coal columns. It is possible that adsorptive capacities were affected by this fungus.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.