In this study, the efficiency of Cr(VI) adsorption onto nano-magnetite was examined by batch experiments, and the Cr(VI) adsorption mechanism was investigated using synchrotron-based X-ray absorption spectroscopy. Magnetite nanoparticles with a mean diameter of 10 nm were synthesized using an inexpensive and simple co-precipitation method. It shows a saturation magnetization of 54.3 emu/g, which can be recovered with an external magnetic field. The adsorption data fitted the Langmuir adsorption isotherm well, implying a monolayer adsorption behavior of Cr(VI) onto nano-magnetite. X-ray absorption spectroscopy results indicate that the adsorption mechanism involves electron transfer between Fe(II) in nano-magnetite (Fe2+OFe3+ 2O3) and Cr(VI) to transform into Cr(III), which may exist as an Fe(III)–Cr(III) mixed solid phase. Moreover, the Cr(III)/Cr(VI) ratio in the final products can be determined by the characteristic pre-edge peak area of Cr(VI) in the Cr K-edge spectrum. These findings suggest that nano-magnetite is effective for Cr(VI) removal from wastewater because it can transform highly poisonous Cr(VI) species into nontoxic Cr(III) compounds, which are highly insoluble and immobile under environmental conditions.
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