The Co2+ sorption of two wool powders was investigated using its radioisotope 57Co (T1/2=271.8 days and γ=122.1 and 136.5 keV) as a tracer. The effects of the type of buffer, the pH value, the contact time and the initial concentration of Co2+ on the sorption behaviour of wool powders were studied. The Co2+ releasing ability of wool powders and the re-use of wool powders to sorb Co2+ were also examined. The optimum sorption of Co2+ by the powders occurred at pH 8 in phosphate buffer and pH 10 in ammonium sulphate buffer. Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) was used to study the changes in chemical structure of the wool after exposure to both buffer solutions. Compared to the untreated wool fibre, the fine wool powders showed rapid sorption rates and high sorption capacities for Co2+. Co2+ ions were recovered after exposing the Co2+ loaded wool to HCl (0.1 M) and buffer at pH 3 (glycine/sodium chloride). After releasing Co2+ ions from wool powders, the efficiency of wool powders re-used to sorb Co2+ was 80% of that of the fresh wool powders. It is concluded from this study that wool powder can be used as an efficient sorbent to remove and release Co2+ from solution.
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