DOI: 10.3390/pr12010085 ISSN: 2227-9717

Alkaline Hydrothermal Treatment of Chabazite to Enhance Its Ammonium Removal and Recovery Capabilities through Recrystallization

Dipshika Das, Sukalyan Sengupta
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Bioengineering

The treatment of chabazite (CHA), a natural zeolite, with the alkaline hydrothermal method to improve its ion-exchange capacity is a widely adopted route by environmental scientists for the purpose of better ammonium (NH4+) removal from wastewater. This work addresses a noteworthy trend in environmental science, where researchers, impressed by the increased ion-exchange capacity achieved through alkaline hydrothermal treatment, often bypass the thorough material characterization of treated CHA. The prevalent misconception attributes the improved features solely to the parent zeolitic framework, neglecting the fact that corrosive treatments like this can induce significant alterations in the framework and those must be identified with correct nomenclature. In this work, alkaline-mediated hydrothermally treated CHA has been characterized through X-ray powder diffraction (XRD), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), solid-state magic-angle spinning nuclear magnetic resonance (MAS-NMR), high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM), and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) and it is concluded that the treated samples have been transformed into a desilicated, aluminum (Al)-dense framework of analcime (ANA) with a low silica–alumina ratio and with a strikingly different crystal shape than that of parent CHA. This treated sample is further examined for its NH4+ removal capacity from synthetic wastewater in a fixed-bed column arrangement. It achieved a maximum NH4+ removal efficiency of 4.19 meq/g (75.6 mg/g of NH4+), twice that of the parent CHA. Moreover, the regeneration of the exhausted column yielded a regenerant solution, with 94% reclaimed NH4+ in it, which could be used independently as a nitrogenous fertilizer. In this work, the meticulous compositional study of zeolitic materials, a well-established practice in the field of material science, is advocated for adoption by environmental chemists. By embracing this approach, environmental scientists can enhance their comprehension of the intricate changes induced by corrosive treatments, thereby contributing to a more nuanced understanding of zeolitic behavior in environmental contexts.

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