Individual and competitive removal of heavy metals using capacitive deionization

Zhe Huang, Lu Lu, Zhenxiao Cai, Zhiyong Jason Ren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

171 Scopus citations


This study presents the viability and preference of capacitive deionization (CDI) for removing different heavy metal ions in various conditions. The removal performance and mechanisms of three ions, cadmium (Cd2+), lead (Pb2+) and chromium (Cr3+) were investigated individually and as a mixture under different applied voltages and ion concentrations. It was found that CDI could effectively remove these metals, and the performance was positively correlated with the applied voltage. When 1.2V was applied into solution containing 0.5mM individual ions, the Cd2+, Pb2+, and Cr3+ removal was 32%, 43%, and 52%, respectively, and the electrosorption played a bigger role in Cd2+ removal than for the other two ions. Interestingly, while the removal of Pb2+ and Cr3+ remained at a similar level of 46% in the mixture of three ions, the Cd2+ removal significantly decreased to 14%. Similar patterns were observed when 0.05mM was used to simulate natural contaminated water condition, but the removal efficiencies were much higher, with the removal of Pb2+, Cr3+, and Cd2+ increased to 81%, 78%, and 42%, respectively. The low valence charge and lack of physical sorption of Cd2+ were believed to be the reason for the removal behavior, and advanced microscopic analysis showed clear deposits of metal ions on the cathode surface after operation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-331
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
StatePublished - Jan 25 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


  • Capacitive deionization
  • Electrosorption
  • Heavy metal
  • Physical sorption


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