Investigation of fluoride and chromium removal from aqueous solutions by silica and SBA-15 nanoparticles synthesized from corn plant organs

Document Type : Original Article


1 Faculty of Chemistry, Department of Analytical Chemistry, University of Mazandaran, Babolsar, Iran

2 Food Science and Technology Research Institute, Department of Food Safety and Quality Control, Mashhad, Iran


Silica is a valuable compound with very high performance in various fields. The aim of this study was to investigate the sites of silica accumulation in corn to prepare SBA-15 and its use in the removal of chromium and fluoride from aqueous solutions. First silica nanoparticles and then functionalized SBA-15 nanoparticles were synthesized. Afterwards the effect of pH, adsorbent amount, initial concentration of ions and contact time on the removal of heavy metals chromium and fluoride were tested. To measure the samples, colorimetric method was performed using spectrophotometers at 540 and 570 nm. The amount of silica in corn was determined using X-ray fluorescence (XRF). The results showed that the highest percentage of silica was related to corn leaves with 93.8%. X-ray diffraction (XRD) and Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) indicated the formation of silica particles with amorphous structure and siloxane bonds (Si-O-Si). The results of scanning electron microscopy (SEM) represented a size of about 8-15 nm. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images displayed that the SBA-15 has been successfully synthesized with hexagonal symmetry and regular channels, a large pore volume, and an average pore diameter of 10 nm. The results pointed that the maximum adsorption time for chromium was 60 min and in 80 min for fluorine. The amount of adsorption per adsorbent unit increased by 53% for chromium and by 41% for fluorine. This study demonstrated that corn agricultural waste can be a good source for the production of silica and SBA-15 nanoparticles, which can also be effective as a cheap and useful way to eliminate water pollution.


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