Montmorillonite-anchored magnetite nanocomposite for recovery of ammonium from stormwater and its reuse in adsorption of Sc3+

Jianzhi Song, Varsha Srivastava, Tomas Kohout, Mika Sillanpää, Tuomo Sainio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The treatment of stormwater to remove and recover nutrients has received increasing interest. The objective of this study was to develop a novel adsorbent that is easy to handle, has good adsorption capacity, and is economical to use. A novel nanocomposite of montmorillonite (MT)-anchored magnetite (Fe3O4) was synthesised by co-precipitation as an adsorbent for ammonium. The MT/Fe3O4 nanocomposite had pore sizes (3–13 nm) in the range of narrow mesopores. The dispersion of the anchored Fe3O4 was confirmed by transmission electron microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). The nanocomposite exhibited higher affinity towards ammonium than the original MT. The Langmuir isotherm model was found to be the most suitable model to explain the ammonium adsorption behaviour of the nanocomposite. The maximum adsorption capacity for ammonium was 10.48 mg/g. The adsorption mechanism was a combination of ion exchange and electrostatic interaction. In an authentic stormwater sample, the synthesised adsorbent removed 64.2% of ammonium and reduced the amount of heavy metal contaminants including Mn, Ni, Cu and Zn. Furthermore, the ammonium loading on MT/Fe3O4 during adsorption functionalised the adsorbent surface. Additionally, the spent nanocomposite showed potential for rare earth elements (REEs) adsorption as a secondary application, especially for the selective adsorption of Sc3+. The versatile application of montmorillonite-anchored magnetite nanocomposite makes it a promising adsorbent for water treatment. Graphic abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Article number55
JournalNanotechnology for Environmental Engineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Ammonium recovery
  • Magnetite
  • Montmorillonite
  • Nanocomposite
  • REE recovery
  • Stormwater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


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