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Mercury(II) binding to thiol-functionalized mesoporous silicas: critical effect of pH and sorbent properties on capacity and selectivity

Abstract : The binding properties of mesoporous thiol-functionalized silica sorbents towards mercury(II) species were studied as a function of pH in a wide range (0–8), in the absence or in the presence of competing metal ions, from batch equilibration experiments. To this end, a series of thiol-functionalized adsorbents characterized by different structures (from completely disordered amorphous solids to highly ordered mesostructures), variable density of organic ligands (from 1 to 4 mmol g−1), and various degrees of porosity, have been prepared either by post-synthesis grafting or by the co-condensation route. Hg(II) binding to these thiol-functionalized silica samples is strongly dependent on pH, especially in acidic medium (pH < 4) where non-hydrolyzed Hg2+ species become dominant. This behavior was found to be significantly affected by the degree of structural organization of the materials (amorphous or ordered mesoporous solids, short-range versus long-range structural order) and the adsorbent composition (density of functional groups). A beneficial effect of high structural order was observed in both the capacity (access to a high number of binding sites) and selectivity (towards other metal ions) for the ordered mesoporous sorbents in comparison to the amorphous gels, but this was only true for pH values down to 4, where Hg(II) species are mainly in the form of Hg(OH)2. In more acidic medium, however, the sorption of the non-hydrolyzed Hg2+ species underwent dramatic loss of effectiveness, which resulted in both lower capacities and worse selectivity. These restrictions were more marked when increasing the density of functional groups in the materials and, to lesser extent, when decreasing their level of structural ordering. They were interpreted on the basis of electrostatic considerations as the binding of Hg2+ to thiol groups leads to the generation of positively charged complexes in the host material while that of Hg(OH)2 involves the formation of neutral moieties. Possible regeneration of sorbents and re-use were also discussed.
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Submitted on : Sunday, December 2, 2018 - 7:57:08 PM
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Alain Walcarius, Cyril Delacôte. Mercury(II) binding to thiol-functionalized mesoporous silicas: critical effect of pH and sorbent properties on capacity and selectivity. Analytica Chimica Acta, Elsevier Masson, 2005, 547 (1), pp.3-13. ⟨10.1016/j.aca.2004.11.047⟩. ⟨hal-01941976⟩



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