Scientists developed a composite sorbent for surface wastewater treatment

Scientists of South Ural State University have developed a composite sorbent for the extraction of heavy metals from wastewater. The unique sorbent not only purifies but also increases its pH.

Environmental issues

Treatment of surface effluents remains a significant environmental problem. Chelyabinsk region is one of the most industrial in Russia. Unfortunately, the work of industrial enterprises severely affects the environment. Surface sewage treatment is one of the priority research areas at the Department of Urban Planning, Engineering Networks and Systems of the Institute of Architecture and Civil Engineering of SUSU. To extract heavy metals from surface runoff, scientists have developed a new composite sorbent.

“We have proposed a composite sorbent for the extraction of heavy metals from surface wastewater, consisting of a heat-treated mixture in the form of granules from aluminosilicates, hydromica volcanic glass. The developed sorbent significantly improves the quality of wastewater treatment from heavy metals,” says the author of the sorbent Dmitry Ulrikh, director of the Institute of Architecture and Civil Engineering.

Effective and profitable way

The materials selected for the manufacture of the composite sorbent are substances with a developed surface and high open porosity. Such a material structure suggests the possibility of absorption of heavy metal cations from aqueous solutions.

“The proportion of the components of the mixture is selected in such a way as to ensure the filtration rate of the treated effluent is not lower than technologically specified. A significant indicator for the sorption process is the contact time of the sorbent with the contaminated runoff, therefore, the structure of the composite sorbent provides the optimal porosity of the system due to the selected ratio of components,” explains Dmitry Ulrikh.

As one of the components of the developed sorbent is glauconite – clay material, long known as a natural sorbent. It has high ion-exchange, and sorption absorbs salts of heavy metals (copper, lead, zinc, etc.), oil products, radionuclides, toxins, pesticides other toxic compounds.

“In addition, a distinctive feature of our sorbents is a significant degree of purification of highly concentrated effluents that maintain a low pH,” goes on Dmitry Ulrikh. – “Through cleaning, we increase the pH level and increase the density. This is necessary for the given technological parameters of industrial effluents."

Glauconite deposits are located on the territory of the Chelyabinsk region, it allows to reduce the final cost of the composite sorbent and increase the economic efficiency of its use. The innovative sorbent has been tested in pilot plants and patented. At the moment, the authors of the technology are in search of industrial partners, which may be mining and metallurgical enterprises interested in treating their effluents.

Research in the field of ecology is one of the three priority areas for the development of scientific and educational activities of the South Ural State University along with the digital industry and material science.

Olga Romanovskaia, photo by Viktoria Marveychuk, @Kainosit (
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