Enhanced removal of humic acid from water by micelle-montmorillonite composites: Comparison to granulated activated carbon

Adi Radian*, Michal Carmeli, Dikla Zadaka-Amir, Shlomo Nir, Eliyahu Wakshal, Yael G. Mishael

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Removal of humic acid (HA) from water by octadecyltrimethyl-ammonium (ODTMA) micelle-montmorillonite (MMT) composites and by granulated activated carbon (GAC) was studied in dispersion and by filtration. FTIR measurements emphasized that the ODTMA micelle-clay-mineral composite differs from the ODTMA monomer-clay-mineral one. HA adsorption by GAC in dispersion was moderately reduced from 100% initially to 75% with an increase in HA concentrations. In contrast, the fractions adsorbed by the composite increased monotonically with HA concentrations from very low adsorption up to 80%. This effect was explained by the presence of a small concentration of ODTMA monomers in dispersion, which adsorbed on the negatively charged HA and partially neutralized it, or caused charge reversal, which in turn inhibited HA adsorption by the positively charged composite. This effect was verified by mobility measurements and was found to be more pronounced at low HA concentrations. This trend of increase in HA removal with an increase in HA concentration (3 and 10. ppm) was also observed in filtration (50% and 85% removal, respectively), when employing columns of the composite mixed with sand (to improve flow). Throughout the experiment the removal of high HA concentration (10. ppm) by the composite filter remained ~. 80% whereas, the removal by the GAC filter decreased from an initial 80% removal to a complete recovery of the HA (no removal) after the passage of 20. L (200 pore volumes). Upon applying sand of higher quality in the columns the removal of low HA concentrations was nearly complete by the composite column while the GAC only slightly contributed to its removal (for a passage of 100. L (1000 pore volumes)).

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)258-263
Number of pages6
JournalApplied Clay Science
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by an Infrastructure Grant of the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology , on Novel Tailored Water Treatment Solutions Based on Clay Nano-Technologies and by a European Union Grant ENPI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Program on "Diffusion of nanotechnology based devices for water treatment and recycling."


  • Composites
  • Filtration
  • Humic Acid
  • Micelles
  • Montmorillonite
  • Water-treatment


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