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Green Graphene–Chitosan Sorbent Materials For Mercury Water Remediation

Ana Bessa, Gil Gonçalves, Bruno Henriques, Eddy M. Domingues, Eduarda Pereira, Paula A. A. P. Marques

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The development of new graphene-based nanocomposites able to provide synergistic effects for the adsorption of toxic heavy metals in realistic conditions (environment) is of higher demand for future applications. This work explores the preparation of a green nanocomposite based on the self-assembly of graphene oxide (GO) with chitosan (CH) for the remediation of Hg(II) in different water matrices, including ultrapure and natural waters (tap water, river water, and seawater). Starting at a concentration of 50 μg L–1, the results showed that GO–CH nanocomposite has an excellent adsorption capacity of Hg (II) using very small doses (10 mg L–1) in ultrapure water with a removal percentage (% R) of 97 % R after only two hours of contact time. In the case of tap water, the % R was 81.4% after four hours of contact time. In the case of river and seawater, the GO–CH nanocomposite showed a limited performance due the high complexity of the water matrices, leading to a residual removal of Hg(II). The obtained removal of Hg(II) at equilibrium in river and seawater for GO–CH was 13% R and 7% R, respectively. Our studies conducted with different mimicked sea waters revealed that the removal of mercury is not affected by the presence of NO3– and Na+ (>90% R of Hg(II)); however, in the presence of Cl–, the mercury removal was virtually nonexistent (1% R of Hg(II)), most likely because of the formation of very stable chloro-complexes of Hg(II) with less affinity towards GO–CH.