Fly ash from two lignite-fed power stations in Greece (Megalopolis and Meliti) has been utilized to synthesize zeolitic materials with upgraded adsorption capacity. Two different siliceous fly ash samples were subjected to hydrothermal treatment at fixed solid/liquid ratio and constant temperature. The zeolitic products have been characterized for their microstructure, chemical, and mineralogical composition by means of SEM, AAS, and XRD, respectively. The primary zeolitic crystals identified were phillipsite and thomsonite, in Megalopolis and Meliti fly ash, respectively. In light of their prospective utilization as liquid-phase sorbents, the specific surface area and porosity of materials were also determined, by means of N2-porosimetry. The zeolitic samples were tested for their actual heavy metal-removal capacity by water sampled from active lignite mines in Northern Greece. Artificial aquatic samples with known concentration of heavy metals (Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, and Zn) were also tested, showing that the synthetic zeolitic materials are good to uptake a wide variety of potential pollutants with up to 100% efficiency. The efficiency of the synthetic zeolitic materials was comparatively assessed, showing that the more intense the presence of phillipsite in the synthetic materials, the greater the uptake rates for certain groups of trace elements.
Keywords: Lignite, Fly ash, Mine-water, Zeolites, Heavy metals, Adsorption