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The SIJ Transactions on Industrial, Financial & Business Management (IFBM), Vol. 1, No.

4, September-October 2013
ISSN: 2321 242X 2013 | Published by The Standard International Journals (The SIJ) 128



AbstractE-waste is one of societys most rapidly growing wastes. Hence, e-waste recycling and separation
of its metallic and non-metallic components has been regarded as a major ecological breakthrough. In the
present research, a novel adsorbent has been developed using the nonmetallic fraction (NMP) which comprises
about 70% by weight of this waste. An activation process has been used both to functionalize and to increase
the porosity of this material and then the novel adsorbent characteristics have been determined. The raw NMP
material has a surface area of less than 1 m
2
/g whereas after activation, surface areas of 200-250 m
2
/g were
achieved. The removal of heavy metal ions from wastewaters has been studied by performing single
component isotherm experiments for copper, nickel, lead, zinc, cobalt and cadmium and binary isotherms have
been performed for cobalt and nickel and copper and lead. Isotherm analysis has been carried out using the
Langmuir, Freundlich, Redlich-Peterson and the Langmuir-Freundlich models to determine the best fit
isotherm models. The modified material had uptake capacities of 2.9 mmol Cu, 3.4 mmol Pb, 2.0 mmol Zn, 3.6
mmol Co and 3.5 mmol Ni.
KeywordsAdsorbent; E-Waste; Metal Removal; Printed Circuit Board; Waste Management; Wastewater
Treatment.
AbbreviationsBrunauer, Emmett and Teller (BET); Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen and Sulfur (CHNS);
Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR); Non-Metallic Portion (NMP); Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs); X-ray
photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS).

I. INTRODUCTION
LECTRONIC waste (e-waste) is our fastest growing
waste stream and is increasing at an alarming rate
causing damaging impacts to our environment due to
the toxicity of many of the components [Musson et al., 2006;
Jun-Hui & Hang, 2009; Noon et al., 2011]. The growth of e-
waste is likely to continue because of the increasing
production of electronic equipment and is related to factors
such as upgrading of high-tech electronic goods, rising urban
population and the lifestyle trend to have the latest gadget.
According to the US-EPA, 80-85% of e-waste has been
traditionally destined for landfills whose leachate has the
potential to contaminate the soil and ground waters.
Furthermore, incineration of PCBs, an alternative to land
filling, can produce dioxins, furans and heavy metals in the
emissions endangering human health [Owens et al., 2007; Bi
et al., 2010; Luo et al., 2011]. Recycling offers a promising
sustainable solution to save the environment from these toxic
materials, with the recovery of high-value metals [Park &
Fray, 2009; NaseriJoda & Rashchi, 2012]. The opportunity to
recover valuable metals, such as gold, silver, palladium and
copper, has brought about the emergence of non-polluting,
eco-friendly recovery technologies to separate metals and
non-metals using separation techniques such as: eddy current
separation [Zhang et al., 1998], corona electrostatic
separation [Li et al., 2008] and density based separation
[Zhang & Forssberg, 1997]. The metal recovery is
economically attractive, however, the non-metallic portion,
NMP, does not have commercial applications.
On the other hand, one of the major water crises of today
is associated with industrial wastewaters containing
hazardous heavy metal ions and their damaging effect on
human health when their tolerance levels are exceeded.
Consequently, their concentration must be carefully
controlled and monitored to levels complying with the
relevant environmental regulations for various bodies of
water [UNESCO, 2003].
A wide range of technologies has been employed for the
removal of metal ion pollutants from effluent streams,
namely coagulation [Boccelli et al., 2005], precipitation [Sun
et al., 2003], reverse osmosis [Ipek, 2005], filtration [Jawor &
Hoek, 2010] and adsorption/ion exchange [Cheung et al.,
2001; Ko et al., 2001]. Amongst these technologies, the latter
E
*Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, HONG KONG. E-Mail: phadis@ust.hk
**Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, HONG KONG. E-Mail: barford@ust.hk
***Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, HONG KONG. E-Mail: kemckayg@ust.hk
Pejman Hadi*, John Barford** & Gordon McKay***
Electronic Waste as a New Precursor for
Adsorbent Production
The SIJ Transactions on Industrial, Financial & Business Management (IFBM), Vol. 1, No. 4, September-October 2013
ISSN: 2321 242X 2013 | Published by The Standard International Journals (The SIJ) 129
method has been shown to be the most promising technique.
The process of adsorption implies the presence of an
adsorbent solid that binds molecules by physical attractive
forces, ion exchange, and/or chemical binding. Nonetheless,
the use of the most common adsorbent, i.e. activated carbon,
has been found to be costly [Kurniawan et al., 2006] which
has prompted researchers to identify more economical
sources of raw materials to reduce the cost. Development of
low cost and concurrently highly efficient adsorbents derived
from carbonaceous waste has been the focus of great research
interest. Materials such as bamboo [Ip et al., 2008; Mui et al.,
2000], peanut shell [Zhu et al., 2009], sawdust [McKay &
McConvey, 1984], peat [Ho & McKay, 2004], bagasse [Valix
et al., 2004; 2009], bone char [Cheung et al., 2005] and tyre
[Mui et al., 2010] have been investigated for this purpose.
Although some of these materials have shown good
adsorption efficacy, there are two major challenges regarding
these carbonaceous materials. The first challenge is
concerned with their low yield and the second one is the very
high process temperatures required which immensely affects
the ultimate adsorbent cost. Hence, it is imperative to look for
other inexpensive waste sources with the same adsorption
efficiency which can be manufactured in relatively high yield
and at lower process temperatures.
Recently, the application of synthetic aluminosilicate
materials to trap the metal ions in their accessible internal
channels has gained momentum [Peri et al., 2004].
However, the drawback for these high-tech materials is their
tedious production routes and relatively high cost which
hinders their widespread application in heavy metal
adsorption. Yet, it is a common knowledge that printed
circuit boards (PCBs) have been composed of plastics and
aluminosilicates [Wallenberger et al., 2004] and accordingly,
it is postulated that non-metallic component of waste PCBs
can theoretically be visualized as a viable alternative to
immobilize the metal ions on their surface.
To date, to the best knowledge of the authors, there are
no systematic studies on the novel application of NMPs as an
adsorbent/ion exchanger. Therefore, this breakthrough study
focuses on the feasibility of effluent detoxification using this
potential innovative adsorbent/ion exchanger to remove
heavy metals with the ultimate aim of recycling these waste
resources in a more profitable way as well as protecting the
environment from an ever-increasing ecological
contamination.
II. MATERIALS AND METHODS
2.1. Materials
The micron-size non-metallic fraction of waste printed circuit
boards (NMP) was employed as the starting material in this
work. The powder was provided by a local company in Hong
Kong.
Potassium hydroxide assay (KOH, >85%) was purchased
from Sigma-Aldrich and used as the chemical activating
agent.
2.2. Activation Process
The as received precursor (NMP) was impregnated with
1M KOH solution for 3 h to give an impregnation ratio of
2:1, where impregnation ratio is defined as the weight ratio of
activating agent to raw material. The slurry was stirred
frequently during impregnation in order to achieve good
mixing. After the impregnation process was completed, the
resultant slurry was heated in a muffle furnace at 5C/min to
250C for 3 h under a flowing nitrogen atmosphere to inert
the vessel and remove all the volatile products arising from
the thermal decomposition of the precursor. After completion
of the activation, the furnace was allowed to cool down to
room temperature under nitrogen atmosphere. The resultant
activated material was washed sequentially several times with
hot and cold distilled water. Finally the sample was dried in
an oven at 110C for 24 h and then stored in a desiccator for
later use.
2.3. Nitrogen Gas Adsorption
The precursor and the activated material were analyzed
by continuous volumetric nitrogen gas adsorption, at liquid
nitrogen temperature, using an Autosorb1-Quantachrome
automatic adsorption analyzer. Prior to the analysis, the
samples were outgassed at 120C for 6-8 h in vacuo.
Adsorption/desorption isotherms, performed under a constant
nitrogen flow rate to an adsorption cutoff p/p
0
=0.98,
typically required 8-12 h to complete. Surface areas and total
micropore volumes were estimated by application of the BET
equation and the t-plot method, respectively, using the
associated instrument software called AS1Win1.5. Mesopore
volumes were calculated by subtracting the micropore
volume (obtained from the application of the t-plot method)
from the total volume of nitrogen adsorbed at p/p
0
= 0.98.
2.4. Elemental Composition
An elemental analyzer (Vario EL III, Varian) was used to
determine the carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and sulfur (CHNS)
contents of the sample.
2.5. FTI R Measurements
Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy has been used to
identify the functional groups that exist on various materials.
FTIR spectra of the raw and activated samples were obtained
with a FTS 6000 FTIR spectrometer in the range of 4000-400
cm
-1
using the KBr disc technique. Well-blended material
KBr (1:100) were ground, then desorbed at room temperature
and pressed to obtain IR-transparent pellets.
2.6. XRF Studies
X-Ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy (JEOL JSX-3201Z)
technique was employed to determine the concentration of
the detectable elements in both the precursor and the
activated material.



The SIJ Transactions on Industrial, Financial & Business Management (IFBM), Vol. 1, No. 4, September-October 2013
ISSN: 2321 242X 2013 | Published by The Standard International Journals (The SIJ) 130
2.7. XPS Studies
X-ray photoelectron data were acquired with an XPS-
PHI5600 system with a monochromatic Al K source
(excitation energy, h = 1486.6 eV) at a voltage of 10 kV and
a current of 15mA. The low resolution spectrum for the
whole range was acquired at 70 eV pass energy, whereas the
high resolution narrow range spectra for elements of interest
were acquired at 20 eV pass energy. The spectra were
corrected using C(1s) at 284.6 eV binding energy as
reference.
2.8. Aqueous Adsorption
Aqueous adsorption tests were performed using different
metal solutions in single-component systems at various
concentrations in the range of 0.5-5mM. The aqueous
adsorption efficiencies of untreated NMP and activated
material (A-NMP) for the compounds were carried out by
mixing 50 mg of the sample with 50 mL of the metal
solutions of fixed concentration.
Subsequently, full aqueous adsorption isotherms were
obtained using the activated material. All adsorption tests
were carried out at 20C in a temperature-controlled shaker
by mixing adsorbate solutions of specific concentrations with
accurately weighed masses of adsorbent in plastic bottles.
The mixtures were shaken for 5 days and the sampling was
performed at specified times followed by filtration.
Preliminary tests showed that the contact times employed
were sufficient to reach steady-state conditions. To minimize
the effect of pH on the adsorption tests, the initial pH values
of all stock solutions were adjusted by the addition of dilute
nitric acid or sodium hydroxide to a pH value of 4. The initial
and final concentrations of the solutions were measured by
ICP-AES (Optima 7300 DV, Perkin Elmer). These data were
used to calculate the adsorption capacity, q
e
, of the adsorbent
and figures of adsorption capacity, q
e
, against equilibrium
concentration, C
e
, were plotted. The final pH of each
isotherm point was recorded and the pH range of each data
point was 5.4 to 5.7.
Furthermore, in order to study the effect of pH, the initial
concentration of the metal solution was kept constant at 5mM
and the pH value was varied in the range of 2-6.
III. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
3.1. Elemental Analysis
One of the fundamental contributions in this work was to
attain an in-depth understanding of the composition of the
original waste material and measuring its compositional
change after the activation process. In this regard, the carbon
amounts in the original (NMP) and treated (A-NMP) waste
materials were 21 and 1.6 wt%, respectively. Thus, most of
the carbon content of the raw material has been burnt off
during the activation process despite the low processing
temperature which is due to the catalyzing effect of
potassium and calcium [Tsai et al., 2001].
On the other hand, according to the carbon elemental
results, a high fraction of the elements present in NMP is
non-CHNS elements which must be identified and measured
by other experimental techniques. XRF analysis revealed that
the dominant constituents of the original waste material were
aluminum, silicon, calcium and bromine accounting for 11.4,
50.6, 29.7 and 4.1 mol% for NMP and 10.3, 53.5, 26.6 and 0
mol% for A-NMP. It is thought that the first three
components probably originated from calcium
aluminosilicate, one of the major constituents of printed
circuit boards. It was noted that the compositions of these
components did not vary significantly during the activation
process, while the latter component from the flame retardants
is completely removed from the adsorbent product during the
activation and/or washing steps.
3.2. FTI R Studies
In order to determine the structure of the material before and
after the activation practice, analytical characterization of the
materials by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR)
was used to monitor the changes in the course of
modification. Figure 1 gives the IR spectrum of these two
materials in a certain range of wavelengths which best
characterizes the material. The characteristic peak at 2928
cm-1 implies the stretching C-H bond whose intensity is
considerably decreased in the A-NMP spectrum compared to
the NMP spectrum. This is due to the carbon burn-off after
the activation process verifying the elemental analysis results.
The strong absorption band peaked at around 3443 cm
-1
in the
A-NMP spectrum can be assigned to the O-H stretching
moiety. On account of the depolymerization of the network in
the course of activation, more Si-O-Si and Si-O-Al bonds are
broken down into hydroxyl-containing silanol groups and
hence the intensity of the peak is increased after activation.
Furthermore, the bands at 1013 cm
-1
and 1036 cm
-1
in
NMP and A-NMP spectra are ascribed to the siloxane entity.
It is envisaged that the activation process results in the
evolution of a porous structure causing the availability of
more surface siloxanic functional groups and thus absorption
of more light at its corresponding wavelength which accounts
for stronger absorption band in the case of A-NMP.

Figure 1: FTIR Spectra of Treated and Virgin Materials
500 1500 2500 3500
T
r
a
n
s
m
i
t
t
a
n
c
e
;

%
Wavenumber; cm-1
NMP A-NMP
3510
3442
1744
146
2
1036
1013
1479
1643
2928
The SIJ Transactions on Industrial, Financial & Business Management (IFBM), Vol. 1, No. 4, September-October 2013
ISSN: 2321 242X 2013 | Published by The Standard International Journals (The SIJ) 131
3.3. XPS Studies
The surface chemistry of the modified and non-modified
materials has been extensively studied by X-ray
photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). A wide scan spectrum of
treated and untreated material is presented in Figure 2. The
most intense photoelectron peaks are found in 102 eV, 153
eV, 285 eV, 293 eV, 347 eV, and 531 eV which are attributed
to Si (2p), Si (2s), C (1s), K (2p), Ca (2p), and O (1s). In this
Figure, the intensities of oxygen, silicon, calcium, and
potassium peaks have been considerably increased on the
surface of the material after the activation process, whereas
smaller carbon peak has been detected on the surface of A-
NMP compared to NMP. Carbon is burnt off during the
treatment process which accounts for lower carbon amount
after activation compared to the original waste material. This
is in good agreement with the elemental analysis data
showing the same trend for the carbon reduction after the
activation process. Moreover, an increase in the intensity of
surface oxygen signifies that oxygen atoms in the silicate
network come into the surface during the reaction either as
Si-OH or Si-O-X groups where X can be either Si or Al. To
further clarify this statement, it should be noted that there are
already many Si-O-X groups on the surface of the untreated
material. Nonetheless, when the original material reacts with
KOH, its surface area increases due to the cleavage of the
siloxane functional groups resulting in the exposure of more
oxygen atoms as either reacted silanol or unreacted siloxane
groups in the network. The same justification holds for the
increase of the surface calcium, silicon, and potassium
elements.

Figure 2: X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) Diagram of the
Modified and Unmodified Materials
3.4. Textural Properties
The porous structure of the material is one of the essential
properties in determining its ability to adsorb the metal ions
from the waste effluents. Therefore, the specific surface areas
(S
BET
), and micropore volumes of NMP and A-NMP were
calculated by applying the Brunauer, Emmett and Teller
(BET) equation and t-plot method, respectively. It was
determined from the results that the specific surface area
(S
BET
) of the material increases from the trivial amount of 0.9
m
2
/g for the original waste material to 222 m
2
/g after the
activation making it more likely to function as a highly
efficient adsorbent. The N
2
adsorption-desorption isotherm
for the non-activated material could be categorized as type III
which results from the nonporous structure of the original
waste material with weak adsorbateadsorbent interactions.
The corresponding isotherm for the activated material is
indicative of a type IV isotherm with a distinct H3 hysteresis
loop according to the International Union of Pure and
Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) classification, which is
characteristic of mesoporous materials. The latter isotherm
exhibited one steep increase at relative pressure
0
> 0.8
which was interpreted as capillary condensation in
mesopores. Moreover, there is not such a steep rise in the low
pressure region which is indicative of the lack of any
micropores. Barrett-Joyner-Halenda calculations for the pore-
size distribution, derived from desorption data, reveal a
narrow distribution for A-NMP centered at 10 nm.
3.5. Activation Mechanism
The above-characterization methods can give an idea about
the activation mechanism of the precursor. It is believed that
impregnation of the precursor with the activating reagent
causes the hydroxyl groups to diffuse into the tetrahedral
network and attack the siloxane bonds resulting in the
cleavage of the latter bonds.
3.6. Metal Uptake Studies
The metal removal efficiency of the treated material was
investigated in several synthetic wastewater solutions with
different concentrations (0.5-5M) of various metal ions at a
pH level of 4. These were compared with both the original
waste material and three commonly-used industrial
adsorbents, called Suqing D401, Lewatit TP207 and MCM-
41.
The isotherms showed the relationship between the
amounts of copper, zinc, and lead adsorbed (qe) and their
equilibrium concentration (Ce) in solution. Initial tests
showed that NMP cannot adsorb any metal ions, as expected,
most probably because of the negligible surface area and no
functional moieties involved.
However, as shown in Figure 3, A-NMP not only has a
better removal efficiency compared to the untreated sample,
but also functions considerably better than its industrial
counterparts for copper ion.
The trend for the zinc, lead, cobalt and nickel metal ions
are similar to the copper metal ion except that the removal
efficiency of A-NMP for them are 2.0, 3.4, 3.6 and 3.5
mmol/g respectively (Figure 4). This high efficiency can be
attributed to the high porosity development in the modified
material and also functionalization of the material during the
activation process.
0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700
I
n
t
e
n
s
i
t
y
;

a
.
u
.
Binding Energy; eV
NMP
A-NMP
O
C
K
C
Si
The SIJ Transactions on Industrial, Financial & Business Management (IFBM), Vol. 1, No. 4, September-October 2013
ISSN: 2321 242X 2013 | Published by The Standard International Journals (The SIJ) 132

Figure 3: Copper Uptake on Commercial Resins and A-NMP

Figure 4: Various Metal Uptakes by A-NMP
3.7. Adsorption Mechanism
The heavy metal (Me
2+
) adsorption mechanism on the
activated material is predominantly an ion-exchange
mechanism with the Me
2+
either exchanging with potassium
or hydrogen ions present in the structure of A-NMP resulting
in the liberation of potassium ions into the solution. The
existence of the potassium ions in the solution after the
adsorption process measured by ICP-AES validates this
mechanism. Nevertheless, since the mole balance of the
adsorbed and desorbed ions mismatch, it is believed that
some physisorption also occurs in the adsorption process.
3.8. Comparative Study
The removal of copper, lead, zinc, cobalt and zinc metal ions
by applying the adsorption method has also been studied by
other researchers using various materials. Peric et al., (2004)
captured 0.4 mmol Cu, 0.45 mmolPb, and 0.2 mmol Zn
metals on a natural zeolite. Rafatullah et al., (2009) have
compared the copper and lead adsorption capacities of their
adsorbent with 8 other researchers and concluded that their
removal capability was much higher than these researches.
According to their tabulated results, their maximum
adsorption was 32 mg/g Cu and 34 mg/g Pb (equivalent to
0.51 mmol/g Cu and 0.16 mmol/g Pb). Qiu & Zheng (2009)
claimed the maximum exchange level of 2.081 mmol/g Cu,
2.53 mmol/g Pb, 1.532 mmol/g Ni and 1.53 mmol/g Zn on a
synthetic zeolite resin. Comparing their results with many
literature values, they concluded a higher adsorption capacity
for their material than the commonly used natural zeolites. In
a comprehensive review study, the heavy metal removal
efficiencies of many low cost adsorbents have been compared
by Kurniawan et al., (2006). Table 1 summarizes the highest
reported data in this study for comparison purposes.
Table 1: Summary of the highest reported adsorption capacities of
low-cost adsorbents and activated carbon extracted from literature
by Kurniawan et al., (2006)
Source of
Adsorbent
Type of
Adsorbent
Adsorption capacity
(mg/g)
Cu Zn Ni
Agricultural waste Soybean hull 154.9 NA 158
Industrial by-
products
Blast Furnace
slag
133.35 103.33 160
Natural materials HCl-treated clay 83.3 63.2 80.9
Miscellaneous
Coffee residue
and clay
31.5 NA NA
Coal NA 27.2 NA
Calcined
phosphate
29.8 NA NA
Activated Carbon GAS type C NA 20 NA
This work E-waste 184.5 117 205
3.9. Single Component Adsorption Modelling
The adsorption isotherms have been simulated by applying
the well-established fundamental models tabulated in Table 2.
It is a common practice to obtain the parameters via the
application of the linear regression statistical analysis of the
two-component models. Nonetheless, since linearization
itself creates significant error, in this study, a nonlinear
optimization approach has been adopted to evaluate the fit of
the isotherm equation to the experimental data. The
suitability of the model equations were evaluated by
minimizing the sum of squared error (SSE) across the liquid
phase concentration range using the Excel software on a trial-
and-error basis.
According to the SSE results, all the models describe the
metal adsorption onto the activated material well using the
parameters obtained.
Interestingly, all the models that best-fit the predicted
isotherms based on calculated parameters for the
experimental data, i.e. Sips and RP are extensions of the
Langmuir model and the modifications applied in the models
only result in a slight improvement in the SSE. For instance,
considering RP model, is very close to unity in which case
it is transformed into the Langmuir equation which is
indicative of the reliability of the Langmuir model in this
study. The ability of the Redlich-Peterson model to fit the
experimental adsorption data for copper on A-NMP is
illustrated in figure 3 by the solid line.


0
1
2
3
4
0 1 2 3 4 5
q
e
;

m
m
o
l
/
g
Ce; mM
A-NMP Suqing Lewatit
0
1
2
3
4
0 1 2 3 4
q
e

(
m
m
o
l
/
g
)
Ce (mM)
Copper Lead Zinc Nickel Cobalt
The SIJ Transactions on Industrial, Financial & Business Management (IFBM), Vol. 1, No. 4, September-October 2013
ISSN: 2321 242X 2013 | Published by The Standard International Journals (The SIJ) 133
Table 2: Isotherm parameters of copper, lead and zinc adsorption onto the activated material
Model Formula Cu Pb Zn Ni Co
Freundlich

2.75 3.35 1.64 3.65 3.45


1

0.069 0.04 0.097 0.14 0.106


SSE 0.13 0.095 0.004 0.46 0.265
Langmuir

1 +

224.4 454.8 17.0 289.5 233.6

76.4 131.1 9.1 82.0 65.5


SSE 0.007 0.013 0.017 0.058 0.059
Sips (Langmuir-
Freundlich)

1 +

140 425.1 35.0 176.6 208.5

47.3 122.5 19.4 49.3 58.3


1

0.87 0.98 1.31 0.87 0.97


SSE 0.006 0.014 0.006 0.051 0.059
Redlich-Peterson
(RP)

1 +

245.8 304.8 14.8 315.4 267.3

84.3 86.5 7.6 89.1 75.1

0.99 1.03 1.04 0.99 0.98


SSE 0.004 0.0003 0.013 0.055 0.052



The Langmuir monolayer capacities of the adsorbent for
copper, lead, zinc, nickel and cobalt were found to be 2.92,
3.52, 1.95, 3.53 and 3.57 mmol per gram of adsorbent,
respectively. In order to find a correlation between the metal
ion uptake and metal ion properties, several parameters
including electronegativity, stability constant, size of
hydrated ion, atomic weight and mass-to-charge ratio were
considered by Dastgheib & Rockstraw (2002) who found that
only electronegativities and stability constants correlate with
the adsorption levels. The electronegativities of copper, lead
and zinc are 1.90, 2.33 and 1.65, respectively and the first
stability constants of the associated metal hydroxides are 6.3,
4.4 and 6.2 respectively. Considering that one of the
dominant mechanisms in this system is ion exchange at the
surface level, it is proposed that the more electronegative
metal ions will have more attraction to the electrons and thus
will result in a higher adsorption affinity. The metal uptake of
the adsorbent is in good agreement with the order of
electronegativities mentioned. Furthermore, the stability
constant is a measure of the stability of the complex formed
by a metal ion with a ligand (in this case hydroxide) in
aqueous solution. Therefore, higher stability constants result
in stronger affinity of the metal ion and hence higher
adsorption. According to the above-values, zinc has the
lowest stability constant which validates the low metal
uptake. However, copper and lead ions have very close
stability constants implying that other factors will be more
dominant in their adsorption behavior. Overall, these values
suggest, as a general trend, that higher electronegativity and
stability constant correspond to higher adsorption levels.

3.10. Binary Component Adsorption Modelling
The two binary systems of cobalt-nickel and copper-lead
have been studied and the results are shown in figure 5.


Figure 5: Experimental Binary Adsorption Isotherms for
(a) Cobalt-Nickel (b) Lead-Copper
0
0.5
1
1.5
2
2.5
3
0 1 2 3 4 5
q
e

(
m
m
o
l
/
g
)
Ce (mM)
Ni Adsorption Co Adsorption
(a)
0
0.5
1
1.5
2
2.5
3
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
q
e

(
m
m
o
l
/
g
)
Ce (mM)
Pb Adsorption Cu Adsorption
(b)
The SIJ Transactions on Industrial, Financial & Business Management (IFBM), Vol. 1, No. 4, September-October 2013
ISSN: 2321 242X 2013 | Published by The Standard International Journals (The SIJ) 134
Despite the similar capacities in the single component
cobalt/nickel systems the binary system shows a competitive
system with nickel having the higher capacity. Various
models, namely, all the extended single component models
were tested unsuccessfully due to the non-ideality of the
binary system. The theoretical model curves shown in Figure
6 are based on the modified extended Freundlich isotherm
[McKay & Al-Duri, 1991]. A noticeable effect is that the
combined sorption capacity of the two metals is about 4
mmol/g A-NMP, significantly higher than that of either
individual single component metal.
The second binary system with copper and lead shows
the displacement effect of lead displacing the adsorbed
copper and is also best-fitted with the modified extended
Freundlich isotherm model.


Figure 6: Fit of the Modified Extended Freundlich Adsorption
Model to (a) Cobalt-Nickel and (b) Lead-Copper Binary Systems
IV. CONCLUSION
A novel material has been produced and characterized by
alkali activation of the non-metallic portion (NMP) of waste
printed circuit boards. The activation process increased the
BET surface area from 0.9 m
2
/g to over 200 m
2
/g of material
and provided a high degree of surface functionality. The
material has been tested as an adsorbent/ion exchanger for the
removal of heavy metal ions from water and has been shown
in this work to have a higher uptake capacity for copper, lead,
zinc, cobalt and nickel than several commercial ion exchange
resins.

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0
1
2
3
0 1 2 3 4 5
q
e
;

m
m
o
l
/
g
Ce; mM
Co (Exp) Ni (Exp)
(a)
0
1
2
3
4
0 2 4 6
q
e
;

m
m
o
l
/
g
Ce; mM
Pb (Exp) Cu (Exp)
(b)
The SIJ Transactions on Industrial, Financial & Business Management (IFBM), Vol. 1, No. 4, September-October 2013
ISSN: 2321 242X 2013 | Published by The Standard International Journals (The SIJ) 135
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Dr. Pejman Hadi. He got his PhD in 2013
from Hong Kong university of Science and
Technology and is currently recruited as a
Research Associate in the same institution.
His research interests are mainly focused on
adsorption phenomenon in aqueous media,
wastewater treatment, waste management,
waste recycling, activated carbon and
materials modification / functionalization /
characterization. He has published several papers in high-impact
factor Journals, including Environmental Science and Technology,
Chemical Engineering Journal and Journal of Hazardous Materials.
He has also presented his work in many prestigious conferences,
such as AICHE Annual Meeting, WCCE 9 and ECCE 9. He also has
a US patent and two prominent awards. He has been invited to write
a book chapter in a book to be published in Scrivener LLC.
Prof Emeritus Gordon McKay. Obtained
his PhD in 1970 and was awarded a DSc in
1992 for his research in adsorption in
wastewater treatment systems. He was a
Reader at Queens University, Belfast,
Northern Ireland, until 1985, and then was
appointed as the Senior Process Specialist
with Project Management Limited (Foster
Wheeler Ireland) until 1995. Then he joined
the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Hong
Kong University of Science and Technology and has been Acting
Head of Department until his retirement and appointment as
Professor Emeritus in 2011. He has published over 350 peer
reviewed research papers, over 150 conference papers and over 100
educational and professional articles. His work has been cited over
sixteen thousand times in Science Citation Index. He is a Fellow and
past Chairman of the Irish Branch, IChemE UK, and HKIE, Hong
Kong.
Professor John P. Barford. He obtained his
PhD at the University of Sydney and was an
Associate Professor at the Sydney from 1985
to 1998. During this period he made Visiting
Appointments to Suntory Limited, Japan,
National University of Singapore and
University of Malaya. He joined the
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular
Engineering at Hong Kong University of
Science and Technology in 1998. His interests include biomolecular
and environmental engineering, metabolic engineering and process
systems engineering / mathematical modelling. He has published
200 research papers and over 100 conference papers. He is a Fellow
of IEAust and IChemE, UK.