Batch experiments were conducted to elucidate the adsorption of a widely used anionic surfactant (sodium dodecylbenzene sulfonate (SDBS)) and nickel on multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs). Counterion effect on the removal of SDBS and nickel by using MWCNTs was also studied. The microscopic changes of MWCNTs before and after nickel and SDBS adsorption were characterized by scanning electron microscope (SEM) and transmission electron microscope (TEM). X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) was performed to study the adsorption mechanism of nickel at a molecular level. The spectroscopic analysis indicated that the adsorption mechanism was mainly attributed to chemical interaction between nickel and the surface functional groups of MWCNTs and surface adsorbed SDBS. The adsorbed SDBS on MWCNTs could lead to the modification of the MWCNT surfaces and partial complexation of nickel with SDBS adsorbed on MWCNTs. MWCNTs are efficient material in the removal of SDBS and nickel from large volume of wastewater.
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