An organic–inorganic composite of chitosan, nanoclay, and biochar (named as MTCB) was chosen to develop a bionanocomposite to simultaneously immobilize Cu, Pb, and Zn metal ions within the contaminated soil and water environments. The composite material was structurally and chemically characterized with the XRD, TEM, SEM, BET, and FT-IR techniques. XRD and TEM results revealed that a mixed exfoliated/intercalated morphology was formed upon addition of small amounts of nanoclay (5% by weight). Batch adsorption experiments showed that the adsorption capacity of MTCB for Cu2+, Pb2+, and Zn2+ were much higher than that of the pristine biochar sample (121.5, 336, and 134.6 mg g−1 for Cu2+, Pb2+, and Zn2+, respectively). The adsorption isotherm for Cu2+ and Zn2+ fitted satisfactorily to a Freundlich model while the isotherm of Pb2+ was best represented by a Temkin model. That the adsorption capacity increased with increasing temperature is indicative of the endothermic nature of the adsorption process. According to the FTIR analysis, the main mechanism involved in immobilization of metals is binding with –NH2 groups. Results from this study indicated that modification of biochar by chitosan/clay nanocomposite enhances its potential capacity for immobilization of heavy metals, rendering the bionanocomposite into an efficient heavy metal sorbent in mine-impacted acidic waters and soils.
- Heavy metals