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Cation Exchange Properties of Zeolites in Hyper Alkaline Aqueous Media

Van Tendeloo, Leen, de Blochouse, Benny, Dom, Dirk, Vancluysen, Jacqueline, Snellings, Ruben, Martens, Johan A., Kirschhock, Christine E. A., Maes, André, Breynaert, Eric
Environmental Science & Technology 2015 v.49 no.3 pp. 1729-1737
aqueous solutions, carbon, cation exchange, cation exchange capacity, cation exchange resins, cations, cesium, concrete, culture media, drainage water, pollutants, saline water, sorption, waste disposal, zeolites
Construction of multibarrier concrete based waste disposal sites and management of alkaline mine drainage water requires cation exchangers combining excellent sorption properties with a high stability and predictable performance in hyper alkaline media. Though highly selective organic cation exchange resins have been developed for most pollutants, they can serve as a growth medium for bacterial proliferation, impairing their long-term stability and introducing unpredictable parameters into the evolution of the system. Zeolites represent a family of inorganic cation exchangers, which naturally occur in hyper alkaline conditions and cannot serve as an electron donor or carbon source for microbial proliferation. Despite their successful application as industrial cation exchangers under near neutral conditions, their performance in hyper alkaline, saline water remains highly undocumented. Using Cs⁺ as a benchmark element, this study aims to assess the long-term cation exchange performance of zeolites in concrete derived aqueous solutions. Comparison of their exchange properties in alkaline media with data obtained in near neutral solutions demonstrated that the cation exchange selectivity remains unaffected by the increased hydroxyl concentration; the cation exchange capacity did however show an unexpected increase in hyper alkaline media.