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Retention of Nickel in Soils: Sorption-Desorption and Extended X-ray Absorption Fine Structure Experiments

Liao, Lixia1; Roy, Amitava2; Scheckel, Kirk G.3; Merchan, Gregory2; Selim, H. Magdi1

doi: 10.1097/SS.0b013e31829a3f0a
Technical Article

Adsorption and desorption of heavy metals in soils are primary factors that influence their bioavailability and mobility in the soil profile. To examine the characteristics of nickel (Ni) adsorption-desorption in soils, kinetic batch experiments were carried out followed by Ni release using successive dilutions. Two soils of distinctly different properties were used: one acidic (Olivier) and one neutral (Webster) soil, where a wide-range Ni concentration was implemented. Adsorption of Ni by both soils was kinetic and increased with increasing initial (input) Ni concentration. The rate of sorption was initially rapid and was followed by gradual retention over time. A sequential extraction procedure and extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) spectroscopy were implemented to characterize Ni kinetic sorption behavior. Five sequential extractions were quantified: exchangeable, bound to carbonates, bound to Fe-Mn oxides, bound to organic matter, and residual fraction. The exchangeable fraction showed a slight increase as initial Ni concentration increased, indicating weakly bound Ni adsorption complexes. Extended X-ray absorption fine structure analyses indicated that Ni hydroxide precipitate formed over time for the neutral Webster soil. This precipitate was likely bound to the Fe/Al oxide fraction. We conclude, based on EXAFS analyses and sequential extractions, formation of Ni hydroxide precipitate depends on soil pH and the amount of Ni sorbed. No Ni hydroxide precipitate was formed on the acidic Olivier soil.

1 School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Science, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA.

2 J. Bennett Johnston, Sr., Center for Advanced Microstructures and Devices, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA.

3 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Risk Management Research Laboratory, Cincinnati, OH.

Address for correspondence: H. Magdi Selim, PhD, School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Science, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803; E-mail:

Financial Disclosures/Conflicts of Interest: None reported.

Received April 22, 2011.

Accepted for publication April 30, 2013.

© 2013Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins