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Novel nitrogen doped magnetic carbons (NMC), in-situ synthesized through facile pyrolysis-carbonization processes using Fe(NO3)3 and melamine as precursors, were demonstrated as excellent nanoadsorbents to remove Cr(VI) effectively. The achieved removal capacity in both neutral and acidic solution was 29.4 and 2001.4 mg g−1 respectively, much higher than the reported adsorbents so far. The unprecedented high adsorption performance can be attributed to the incorporation of the nitrogen dopant, which increased the negative charge density on the surface of adsorbent and thereby enhanced the interaction between the adsorbents and Cr(VI) ions. The density functional theory (DFT) calculation demonstrated that the nitrogen dopants can decrease the adsorption energy between the Cr(VI) ions and NMC (−3.456 kJ mol−1), lower than the undoped sample (−3.344 kJ mol−1), which boosted the adsorption behavior. Chemical rather than physical adsorption was followed for these magnetic nanoadsorbents as revealed from the pseudo-second-order kinetic study. Furthermore, the NMC showed high stability with recycling tests for the Cr(VI) removal.

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