Among pharmaceutical products (PPs) recalcitrant to water treatments, diclofenac shows a high toxicity and remains at high concentration in natural aquatic environments. The aim of this study concerns the understanding of the adsorption mechanism of this anionic PP onto two organoclays prepared with two long-alkyl chains cationic surfactants showing different chemical nature for various experimental pH and temperature conditions. The experimental data obtained by a set of complementary techniques (X-ray diffraction, elemental analyses, gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry, and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy) and the use of Langmuir, Freundlich and Dubinin–Radushkevish equation models, reveal that organoclays show a good affinity to diclofenac which is enhanced as the temperature is under 35 °C and for pH above 4.5 (i.e. >pKa of diclofenac) while the chemical nature of surfactant appears to play a minor role. The thermodynamic parameters derived from the fitting procedure point out the strong electrostatic interaction with organic cations adsorbed within the interlayer space in the organoclays for the adsorption of diclofenac. This study stress out the application of organoclays for the adsorption of a recalcitrant PPs in numerous aquatic compartments that can be used as a complement with activated carbon for waste water treatment.
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