Material for the Adsorption of Rare Earth Elements and Its Application in Preconcentration of Rare Earth Elements in Seawater
- R. Zhao, Y. Wang, X. Li, B. Sun, C. Wang
- J. Colloid Interface Sci
Combined with the features of electrospun nanofibers and the nature of hydrogel, a novel choreographed poly(acrylic acid)-silica hydrogel nanofibers (PAA-S HNFs) scaffold with excellent rare earth elements (REEs) recovery performance was fabricated by a facile route consisting of colloid-electrospinning of PAA/SiO2 precursor solution, moderate thermal cross-linking of PAA-S nanofiber matrix, and full swelling in water. The resultant PAA-S HNFs with a loose and spongy porous network structure exhibited a remarkable adsorption capacity of lanthanide ions (Ln(3+)) triggered by the penetration of Ln(3+) from the nanofiber surface to interior through the abundant water channels, which took full advantage of the internal adsorption sites of nanofibers. The effects of initial solution pH, concentration, and contact time on adsorption of Ln(3+) have been investigated comprehensively. The maximum equilibrium adsorption capacities for La(3+), Eu(3+), and Tb(3+) were 232.6, 268.8, and 250.0 mg/g, respectively, at pH 6, and the adsorption data were well-fitted to the Langmuir isotherm and pseudo-second-order models. The resultant PAA-S HNFs scaffolds could be regenerated successfully. Furthermore, the proposed adsorption mechanism of Ln(3+) on PAA-S HNFs scaffolds was the formation of bidentate carboxylates between carboxyl groups and Ln(3+) confirmed by FT-IR and XPS analysis. The well-designed PAA-S HNFs scaffold can be used as a promising alternative for effective REEs recovery. Moreover, benefiting from the unique features of Ln(3+), the Ln-PAA-S HNFs simultaneously exhibited versatile advantages including good photoluminescent performance, tunable emission color, and excellent flexibility and processability, which also hold great potential for applications in luminescent patterning, underwater fluorescent devices, sensors, and biomaterials, among others.