Removal of Pb2+ and Cd2+ Ions, Colour and Turbidity from Water Using Carbon and Ash Derived From Maize Cobs
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About 17.2 million Kenyans lack access to clean water due to increased population growth, high rate of industrialisation and poor waste management. The situation may worsen if immediate measures are not taken. Lead and cadmium are the main heavy metals in contaminated water and their harmful effects such as lung cancer, mental retardation and nerve disorder cannot be under estimated. Available methods for removing these metal ions from water such as use of activated carbon are very expensive and unaffordable to low income earners. Maize cobs which have minimal use after maize harvesting can be utilised to reduce environmental pollution. The primary aim of this study was to investigate the ability of maize cobs derived products to adsorb both lead (II) and cadmium (II) ions and remove methylene blue and turbidity from contaminated water. Maize cobs charcoal was prepared by heating dry maize cobs in a furnace in limited air. Activation was done by use of 1 M sulphuric acid and heating the mixture in a closed vessel. Maize cob ash was generated by heating dry maize cobs in a furnace. Ability of these adsorbents to adsorb lead (II) and cadmium (II) ions from the solution was investigated by carrying out batch experiment and varying parameters such as contact time, initial metal ion concentration, adsorbent dose, temperature and shaking speed. The data obtained was fitted in Langmuir and Freundlich models. Activated charcoal gave the best fit in Langmuir for lead ions with maximum adsorption capacity of 13.0 mg/g. Ash fitted in Freundlich model with r2=0.953. For removal of cadmium (II) ions, all the adsorbents gave best fit in Freundlich with maize cob charcoal having the highest adsorption capacity of 24.3 mg/g and r2=0.997. Among the three adsorbent only ash was found to have the ability of removing turbidity from water. This implies that maize cob derived products can be used to remove lead (II) and cadmium (II) ions from waste water.